If you haven’t been over to my Book List lately, you may want to hop over and take a peek! There are a few new additions of books I’ve found fascinating and inspiring, and I want to share a few of them with you here.
(*Includes affiliate links. Click on titles to visit full descriptions from Amazon.)
The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley
I loved the narrative, but informative style of this book, written by a journalist who followed three American foreign exchange students as they entered the school systems of three educational powerhouses: Finland, South Korea, and Poland.
Comparing and contrasting the classrooms, social lives, and attitudes of students as well as the approaches to reform and debates about what defines quality taken by different countries around the world with those commonly found in the US was really fascinating.
At the core of this book is an emphasis on rigor (which, in my mind, introduces a whole new conversation on how you define rigor, particularly in early childhood classrooms) for both students and for teacher preparation alike.
I found this book riveting and it caused me to think of some aspects of education in a completely new way. As Ripley points out, some of the debates we have in the US completely miss the mark when you look at them in context with what’s actually happening in other countries.
My only disappointment was that it address education almost wholly from the high school perspective (since that’s where her sources were). I don’t like the idea of assessing education from the highest grades and then simply pushing down from there without regard for development, but I actually felt like many of the principles Ripley talked about in the book were done in a way that did make them largely applicable to the larger educational system. (Still, I would have loved more than just a quick mention of the early education approach they adhere to in Finland — something I’ve written about here.)
I think this is a must-read if you’re drawn to the discussion about how to improve our education systems!
The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J Siegel, MD and Tina Payne Bryson, PhD
This book is a fantastic combination of neuroscience and positive parenting. It shares 12 parenting techniques (though teachers could use them too!) that enhance optimal brain development and promote emotional development as well.
Written by authors who are not only experts and scientists, but parents as well, this book gives tools, strategies, and insights that are useful for dealing with challenging situations by working with the brain’s natural circuitry, not against it.
I love when science shows that the brain is actually wired for positive guidance techniques!
Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider
With Tsh’s background in international travels and a quest for meaningful simplification (she has a popular blog based on that quest), this book cataloged some of her own experiences and realizations as she has traveled (and continues to travel) through the world and through life, living with her family on their own terms.
The book is divided into categories of life (education, travel, work, food, etc.) and explores the many ways we can experience those aspects fully as we intend, rather than just going with the current trends.
I loved how Tsh shared her own experiences, but never forces them as the “right” approach. Rather, her emphasis is on having a wider perspective and then making choices intentionally.
This was a great, inspirational read that came at the perfect time for me!
Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors by Rachelle Doorley
I’ve written about this book a few times since it’s release, but in case you haven’t seen the author interview, or the amazing Draw Bot in action, I thought I’d call your attention to it again!
This is a book that belongs on the shelves of parents and teachers alike. It’s a fantastic resource for getting kids involved in meaningful hands-on projects, plus plenty of information to help you make the activities successful, and to understand why they’re so important!
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
Here’s one you won’t find on my book list page, but you might want to pick it up if you’re looking for a summer novel! My friends claim I need to dip into the world of fiction more often, and this one comes highly recommended.
Part of a larger collection of writings by Wendell Berry, this book contains the reflections of Hannah Coulter, a seventy year-old woman living in the small agrarian town of Port William, Kentucky during and after World War II.
I downloaded it on Audible so I could listen over my long road trip and found it to be beautifully written and particularly nostalgic as I drove through the farmlands of western Idaho and eastern Oregon where I grew up. I’ve really enjoyed it — but I’m not quite done yet, so don’t spoil the ending for me! ;0)
Of course, there’s also the NJC Read Along book, It’s OK NOT to Share — I hope you’re reading that too! If not, this is a great time to jump on in!
What’s on your reading list these days? What do I need to add to my book list?
The Whole Brain Child looks good! I recently finished Notes from a Blue Bike and really like it. Jamie Martin’s Steady Days is one of my favorites for moms with littles.
I love this list!! I recently read The Smartest Kids in the World and almost emailed you about it!! The whole idea of rigor and academic resilience was something new to chew on. And although I’ve read articles and studies that used PISA I always assumed it was “just another test”. The part on PISA really kind of blew my mind away.
Also love Blue Bike, one of the few books I have bought without reading first.
I think you have mentioned your love for TinkerLab enough that I am going to break down and buy it!! Thanks for the thoughtful and small lists. I know if you are mentioning it, it’s worth the read!!