Shore faculty members recommend these new and classic works for parents, children, or both.
Upper School students and their families were encouraged this year to pick up this dystopian novel of resistance and revelation. In a community devastated by a climate apocalypse, speech is constrained to five hundred words. Those who speak outside the approved lexicon face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice, Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language. On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, but when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but also culture itself.
In our modern, online age, children have less self-control than ever. Contemporary kids need to learn independence and responsibility, yet our old ideas of punishments and rewards are preventing this from happening. A journalist and parenting expert, Lewis articulates what she calls “The Apprenticeship Model,” a new theory of discipline that centers on learning the art of self-control. Head of School Clair Ward says, “I found the research at the beginning of this book exceptionally helpful in contextualizing what we are seeing in schools. I also have adjusted my own behavior as a parent after having read the book.”
Lower Schoolers this year read this work about science hero Dr. Temple Grandin. When she was diagnosed with autism as a child, no one expected Grandin to talk, let alone become one of the most powerful voices in modern science. Yet, her unique mind allowed her to connect with animals in a special way, helping her invent groundbreaking improvements for farms around the globe.
Head of Upper School Gustavo Carrera recommends this book by a Harvard psychologist for parents who want to understand their own behavior with the greatest possible clarity. Weissbourd argues argues that parents—not peers, television, or the internet—are undermining children’s moral development. Parents’ intense focus on their children’s happiness is turning many children into self-involved, fragile conformists. But the author’s hopeful message is that the intense and joyous process of raising a child can be a powerful force for our own moral development.
Upper School Spanish teacher Pamela Torres calls this her favorite book for teens. In this Coretta Scott King Honor Award–winning novel, two teens—one black, one white—must face the fact that racism and prejudice didn’t die after the civil rights movement, and they contend with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school and their community divided by racial tension.
Upper School English teacher and Director of Secondary School Counseling Sander van Otterloo says, “The Western World appreciates talkers. The Eastern world appreciates listeners. Teachers and parents will benefit from understanding the too-often hidden strengths of the quieter people in the room.” In Quiet, Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.
Fourth grade teacher Stacy Tell says she highly recommends this book for families with middle-grade children. “It is a funny, heartfelt story that explores transgender identity in a way that feels both supportive and appropriate.” In it, elementary school student George, who was born a boy but knows in her heart that she is a girl, wants to play the role of Charlotte in the school's yearly production of Charlotte's Web. When the teacher says she can’t, George and a friend make a plan that will allow George to show her true self.
According to Upper School science teacher Oliver Hay, this non-fiction work is filled with terrific science and engineering, but also packs “an inspiring message about people from around the world working together to achieve something amazing—the International Space Station (ISS). Also, it's a book about his journey from being a mediocre student to an incredibly accomplished pilot/astronaut.” Kelly is a former military fighter pilot and test pilot, an engineer, a retired astronaut, and a retired U.S. Navy captain. A veteran of four space flights, Kelly commanded the ISS on three expeditions.
Sander van Otterloo recommends this classic about a bull who is comfortable in his own skin and follows his heart. The book by Leaf and illustrator Robert Lawson tells the story of a bull who would rather smell flowers than fight in bullfights. He sits in the middle of the bull ring refusing to take heed of the provocations of the matador and others to fight. Released less than two months after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Ferdinand was initially seen by many as a defense of pacifism.
Third grade teacher Sam Hamlin recommends this book for its “positive take on some of the challenging problems we face as a society today.” Friedman explains the “accelerations” affecting five key realms of our world: the workplace, politics, geopolitics, ethics, and community. With vitality, wit, and optimism, Friedman shows that we can overcome the multiple stresses of an age of accelerations if we slow down and use the time to reimagine work, politics, and community.