I read almost 100 books in 2014. Here are my favorites (and yes, I realize I’m over two months late with this list). I track my reading on Goodreads. So if we’re not friends there, you should join me!
Here are my favorite parenting and education books of 2014.
(with apologies for the repetitiveness to my Goodreads friends as these are my edited reviews from what I posted there through the year)
Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife by Peggy Vincent: I read this many years ago, well before I had kids or even knew much of anything bout labor and childbirth. The opening story is so terribly sad and enraging. It was really cool to read it again, having birthed two babies naturally.
Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World by Ben Hewitt: I LOVED this book! Although we will never be able to come close to recreating what they do (because, well, we don’t live on many acres in rural New England), I was particularly grateful for the way he articulated his hopes and dreams for his children, which in many ways are exactly what Nik and I want for our kids.
Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity by Lauren F. Winner: Although aimed at single Christians, I think all Christians (married or single) should read this. Winner’s call to community and to honoring our responsibilities to each other is particularly strong and was especially convicting to me on this reread. I appreciate her definition of chastity as a commitment to having sex in its proper place – the free choice to live one’s sexual life in accord with Christian values. This means that we are all called to live chaste lives – married or single. This book will be guiding our approach to discussing sexual ethics and values with our children. It’s a far more nuanced approach than the “just cross your legs and say no” approach of the True Love Waits campaign and other evangelical approaches.
The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley: This is a well-written, fascinating look at what’s been done correctly and incorrectly in K-12 education all over the world. Now, to figure out how to translate her takeaways (particularly relating to rigor and autonomy) to homeschooling/unschooling.
Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting by Laura Markham: This is the best book that I’ve read so far on gentle discipline. I particularly appreciated her “assume disconnection before disobedience” emphasis and have found this to be particularly true with Ellie, as I discussed in this post. She certainly errs on the “children are inherently good” side of the argument and I’m sure many Christians will disagree, countering with the “we are all inherently sinful” argument. I think we need both ideas, a balance, when parenting our children. It’s easier for me to assume the worst about my children and so her emphasis is definitely helpful for me.
Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits by Donalyn Miller: I so wish I could have read this book early on in my career as an ESOL teacher, essentially teaching reading. In Miller’s classroom, I see a powerful vision for helping students find the love of reading, one that will carry them through their lives, so that they will all be “reading in the wild” – that is, reading on their own, because they want to, for the love of reading, and not because any external force is compelling them to read. Anyone who teaches reading or wants to help kids learn to read should read this book and then put it into practice. (I also learned that I am an extremely wild reader. For example, this book was a super lucky find on the new-nonfiction shelf at the library. Finding books like this, by browsing those shelves, is a sign of a wild reader!)
All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior: This was a fabulous book. I was really skeptical going into it, expecting it to be just another parent-bashing volume. Rather, it’s full of really interesting, freeing, empowering research about parenting and why it’s not so fun all the time but still overflowing with joy. I was also surprisingly emotional by the end (lots of tears).
Do you have any favorites on this list? Any more on these topics to recommend to me?