With the winter break coming up and more time with your kids, I thought a wrap up of my recent reading with my children might be helpful (and hopefully fun as well!).
Most of what I’ve read these last few months has been with my son Koby in Grade 3, because Simi and I (Grade 6) are two-thirds of the way through Little Women, and it’s taken us a long time to get through. Little Women, the classic 19th century novel by Louisa May Alcott, about a family of four girls growing up in Massachusetts, is not only long, but written in English that is, well, from the 19th century. Simi has loved the whole thing, but it’s taken me a little time to get into the language – sometimes flowery, and sometimes just words and phrases we don’t use anymore (Simi was already familiar with the story, as she’d read the abridged version, first with my wife, then by herself – this has helped a lot). Nonetheless, the deeper we enter into the lives of these characters, the more experiences, struggles and adventures we share with them, the more we’ve become connected and feel a part of their world. The stories are not infrequently educational as well, with a strong moral strain running through the book. This may be because her father, Amos Bronson Alcott, was a transcendentalist, progressive educator who opened his own one-room schoolhouse in Concord, Massachusetts, which our family has visited a couple of times over the years. Until recently, I had his ‘List of Principles’ on the wall in my office (they are worth reading), but recently replaced it with our own mission statement, and Portrait of a Graduate!
Koby and I have gotten through a lot more. Here’s a list in brief:
- The Incredible Journey, by Sheila Burnford, is about two dogs and a cat and their adventure across the Canadian north to find their master. As with any good book, it was as much about the journey as the relationships.
- Chris Grabenstein’s Mr. Lemoncello series: We have now read three in the series (Escape From Mr. Lemoncellos’s Library; Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics; and Mr. Lemoncello’s Very First Game). All were excellent, full of great values, and really fun to read.
- We have also gotten into abridged classics, which Koby is a perfect age for. We’ve read one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books (amazing), the Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane, (Takes place during the Civil War, and it is about courage, fear, and self deception. Not as amazing.), The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas (A wonderful adventure story that takes place in 18th century France – also amazing.); The Call of the Wild, by Jack London, (Takes place in the Canadian North, and told from a dog’s point of view – also amazing); and more.
Finally, my kids have gotten really into The Circle Magazine, a wonderful, frum magazine that covers a ton of content and media. They have everything from current events to comics, games to interesting stories and facts, polls for kids about things relevant to them, serialized stories and much more. I know they are sold at Sobeys, though I suspect most kosher supermarkets carry them, and are also available by subscription.
Just Because I Liked It:
- Here’s another article about small town America, which a parent shared with me. As with the one I shared last week, it’s entirely fascinating and sad at the same time. Given the geography of this town (Western Pennsylvania) and social context, it reminded me of The Heaven and Earth Grocery Story, by James McBride.
- Especially given what’s going on in the world, tuning into Noam Weissman’s podcast, Israel Unpacked, is timely and helpful.
- Here is an article that importantly describes why we should not only be worried about girls’ mental health, but boys as well, from Dr. Jonathan Haidt. I’m curious (and he does not address) how this challenge plays out socioeconomically, given the reasons he attributes for increased incidences of mental health issues in boys.