Marina Koestler Ruben

Blog Posts: December 2011

My Reading List: 25 Books of 2011

Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by the number of books I would need to read to be a "well-educated" person.  Every time a colleague references a "classic" that I haven't conquered, I cringe and add it to a Word document full of unread literature.  I also fall prey to guilt-inducing, bookseller-funded Top Book lists:

"The Top 10 Books of 2011"

"The Top 10 Books of Last Week"

"The Top 10 Books of Yesterday" 

"The 150 Epic Poems Every Writer Should Reread Annually"

So it was a relief to encounter Joshua Bodwell's essay, "You Are What You Read: The Art of Inspired Reading Lists" in the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of Poets & Writers.  He opens with an epiphany--"I won't get to all the books I want to read in my lifetime"--and backs it up with statistics: there were 300,000+ books published in 2010.  As he points out, that's almost 900 books a day.  No one could get through them all, or even through all the good ones.  And, of course, there are the millions already out there on the shelves.  

Once you give up on the idea that everyone has to read particular books from a universal best-of list, you can embrace the idea that you have your own literary niche.  Relish the knowledge that you can follow a theme or author to its natural works of literature, replacing the should-reads with the want-to reads.

Bodwell made his own list of books, "Bodwell's Baker's Dozen," of books, both old and new, that inspired him over the past year.  I think this is a valuable idea for all of us--and for our children and students.  (You can do the same with movies, television shows, or even music.)

Any of these lists can provide an insightful look back into your mind over the past year.  In that spirit, here's my list:

Of the Books I Read in 2011, Here Are 25 Notable Ones (and Some Audio Books)

I read books about education:

And self-help:

Books for older children:

And much younger:

And books about children, including how to prepare for and then raise them:

And how others prepare for and raise them:

And how they cope when their children struggle or suffer:

I also used Audible.com to listen to these plays, most of which I'd recommend, though generally for teens and adults:

The Best Facebook Groups for Parents to Follow

If you've read How to Tutor Your Own Child, you probably saw Chapter 6, "iDon't Think iKnow Where My Homework Is: Helping Kids Connect and Organize for the Twenty-First Century."  In it, I address how to maximize the educational impact of 21st-century technologies.

Now, I wish I could go back and augment the section about Facebook--since the book's publication, I've become much more familiar with Facebook accounts worth following.  While I can't amend the book, I can share information via this blog.  So here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite Facebookers.  For the most part, I'm letting their sites' descriptions speak for themselves:

1. How to Tutor Your Own Child -- Obviously this recommendation is biased(!), but I do try to provide information that will benefit parent-tutors, from book recommendations (e.g., Cheaper by the Dozen) to educational conversation starters ("The 45 Most Powerful Images of 2011") to video resources (YouTube's education channel).

2. Children's Book-a-Day Almanac -- "Daily children’s book recommendations and events from Anita Silvey."

3. Play at Home Mom -- "We are a group of moms who have a firm belief in positive parenting and play based learning. We hope to inspire, educate, uplift, and empower you all to be the best moms (and dads) you can be. "

4. Read Aloud Dad -- "Read Aloud Dad is all about children's book reviews, read aloud tips and advice for all those who are involved with reading to and with children!"

5. Tinkerlab -- "TinkerLab aims to help parents tap into a child’s natural curiosities through creative experiments that support independent thinking, enthusiasm for the wonders of the world, problem posing and solving, and the imagination. The projects and ideas shared here are child-centered and value the processes of exploration, experimentation, and curiosity."

6. Grammar Girl -- I did mention Grammar Girl's podcast in the book, but not her Facebook page.  "Grammar Girl provides short, friendly tips to improve your writing. Covering the grammar rules and word choice guidelines that can confound even the best writers, Grammar Girl makes complex grammar questions simple with memory tricks to help you recall and apply those troublesome grammar rules."

7. I Can Teach My Child! -- "Helping you be your child's first teacher--Activities and resources for parents of children birth to 5 years."

8. Our Montessori Home -- Advice and resources from a Montessori family.

9. teachmama.com -- "My goal is to sneak in a little bit of learning for my kiddos--disguised as fun--every day."

Thanks to all of these Facebookers for their contributions to families everywhere!

Readers, what sites provide you with inspiration?  Do you use any of the same resources that I do, or do you have other recommendations?  Use the comment section (below) to share your favorite Facebook groups. Read Full Post.