Friday, September 30, 2016

How to Talk so Kids Will Listen...

...And Listen so Kids Will Talk. A parenting classic. Written by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish many moons ago, this gem has stood the test of time and has been updated by Faber's daughter for today's family. The book deals with communication skills that show respect for the children and the parents. It focuses on helping children deal with their feelings, engaging cooperation, alternatives to punishment, encouraging autonomy, praise, and freeing children from playing roles. Each heading is backed with pertinent advice, techniques, and engaging cartoon illustrations to set the ideas more firmly in your mind.

And it works. That's the real reason for the endurance of this book. I've tried just a couple of these ideas with my children in the past two weeks as I've read. We had an open relationship before, good rapport. Since just acknowledging her feelings, my youngest daughter seems much more relaxed and eager to share hugs. My middle child, a son, can hardly stop talking. My fourth, another daughter, is learning it's okay to share even negative feelings in a respectful manner. Before, in the role of "the good girl", you wouldn't know she had negative feelings!

They will be emotionally healthier if I can change the way I speak to them, modeling for them respectful ways to speak to each other. These "techniques" become a way of life; really listening and effectively speaking to everyone you come in contact with. I look forward to that. I borrowed this from the library and took copious notes. I may have to get my own copy.

The Terrible Two

Written by Jory John and Mac Barnett, this older children's book is just plain fun. Miles Murphy is the best prankster at his school, but he's moving. To Yawnee Valley, known only for cows. And it seems his new school already has a prankster. A very good one. Will there be a prank war? Or will these two team up? The book is illustrated by Kevin Cornell (I especially like his placid cows). This is the beginning of a series.

The Little Bookstore...

...of Big Stone Gap. An informative yet delightful memoir by Wendy Welch. It tells the the story of how, burnt out and jaded, she and her husband fell in love with a house  in a town they could love among mountains that felt like home and decided to pursue a dream of owning a bookstore. Used books. And how they made it work, becoming part of a community along the way. Personalities and experiences spice up the pages as well as book talk.

This book really struck me as helpful as well as good reading material. For my husband and I hope to open a used bookstore in the next couple of years. It provides a cautionary tale (what not to do) and some assistance (what to do) as an entrepreneur. And it's just good reading!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

84, Charing Cross Road

A collection of letters between Helene Hanff and the staff of Marks & Co., London booksellers, 84, Charing Cross Road is completely charming. Miss Hanff lived in a New York brownstone writing television scripts, children's books, and magazine articles. She could not be troubled to walk to an American bookstore for a mediocre edition of any of the eclectic books on her list for research or pleasure. Thus began the letters (and gifts) to Marks & Co. in 1949, lasting two decades.

One gets to know people well through letters. I should know; my husband and I corresponded through snail mail for months before we met. The letters in this delightful book are gentle reminders of a more mannered time, when people could carry out long-distance friendships with more than a hashtag or Facebook post. There was less chance of being misunderstood; more chance of that friendship lasting a lifetime.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair is a non-fiction book by Anne Lamott. How do we find meaning and peace in the face of personal or public devastation? We gather the shreds of our emotional and spiritual fabric and begin sewing. Lamott shares poignant personal experiences as she shares the best way to overcome is to rebuild, renew, repair. When the world seems falling apart we hold it together with the thread of hope.

Lamott is broad-minded: her tales should resonate with people from any faith tradition. She is well traveled, giving interest to her stories as well. Stitches is a short book, six chapters. A determined reader could easily finish it in a day. I would suggest savoring it a little more, internalizing some of the truths found therein.

Dragon Seed

This book by Pearl Buck follows one man's family through war. Ling Tan and his family have a peaceful existence in their village outside the city of Nanjing when the Japanese invade in 1937 (otherwise known as the Rape of Nanking). The atrocities are mentioned, but not in great detail. Rather, the thoughts of the fabulously drawn characters are the main emphasis of the book.The war is ongoing at the end of the book, yet we are left with hope.

It was a bit difficult for me to place this historical novel into history. There are no clues in the beginning of the story as to which invasion we might be speaking of. The nearby city is not named. My library copy did not have the publication data. Dragon Seed was published in 1942, with World War II still raging. Perhaps there were worries of ramifications for those left in Nanjing if identifying characteristics were published?

Another informative book about this time is American Goddess at the Rape of Nanking by Hua-ling Hu. This is the well researched biography of Minnie Button, an American missionary, teacher, and the administrator of Ginling College who took in thousands of women and children to save their lives. She eventually had to leave China when her health failed and considered herself a failure. Yet if she had not been in so brave and in such a position many more women and children would have been violated and murdered.