Reading—and Parenting Book Clubs

Reading—and Parenting Book Clubs

Education November 11, 2019 / By Joanne Foster, EdD
Reading—and Parenting Book Clubs
SYNOPSIS

Reading can empower people of all ages. And, parents who launch or participate in a book club can find it beneficial and invigorating! Discover why.

ADVANTAGES OF READING 

“The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbours, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all.”   ~ Voltaire

The advantages of reading are manifold. They include information, insight, connectivity, perspective, literacy, and a love of learning. And, that’s just the beginning. Moreover, the best part is that words need not be contained! They have a life of their own once people start to think, converse, collaborate, and create. Research shows that reading stimulates neural connections; enhances vocabulary, writing, and communication skills; and stimulates learning—kindling knowledge, curiosity, creative expression, and progress. 

“Parents and teachers can encourage children to write and also to read; to find enlightening material, including audio books and podcasts; to share literary experiences; to record their reflective journeys in journals; and to reflect upon and discuss the different kinds of messages that words convey. The end result? Children develop meaningful understandings and learn to be discerning.”  ABCs of Raising Smarter Kids, p. 74

The best way for adults to teach children the value of reading is to demonstrate that it is integral to daily life. 

PARENTING—AND THE POWER OF BOOKS

“Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.”  ~ John Locke

When parents (and educators) read books and reflect upon them—and engage in lively and helpful conversations about child development and related matters—they discover ways to strengthen parenting and teaching practices. Thought is a forerunner to dialogue, which is foundational for building support networks, making alliances, considering different points of view, integrating perspectives, and staying connected. These, in turn, are all-important as parents strive to support and encourage children’s learning and well-being. 

“Parental attitudes will be influenced by the nature and accuracy of the resources they acquire, reflect upon, and apply; the kinds of support they receive; the extent to which they network and share useful information with one another; and also whether they think and act in positive, collaborative, flexible, and constructive ways.”  ABCs of Raising Smarter Kids, p. 5

Benefits for parents who extend and share their reading experiences include:

  • joining forces and finding like-minded others from different communities, cultures, networks, and professional disciplines; 
  • questioning assumptions, inferences, and biases;
  • gathering information so as to bring new ideas to the table (at home, school, or within the community);
  • and, if need be, facilitating plans for implementing positive change or galvanizing constructive advocacy efforts. 


At the end of the day (any day), parents depend upon each other locally and globally for ideas, recommendations, updates, findings, and practical parenting tips. Parents who work toward fortifying communication channels are better positioned to help their child succeed. This is because respectful conversation and collaboration are the basis for mutually developed expectations, which provide frameworks wherein people pull together to benefit children.

BOOK CLUB BASICS

“After all manner of professors have done their best for us, the place we are to get knowledge is in books. The true university of these days is a collection of books.”  ~ Albert Camus

Parents can model and set the tone for life-long reading, learning, and connectivity with others by participating in groups, book clubs, or associations that appreciate and cultivate a love of reading. It makes good sense for parents to consider joining or creating a group that will inform their sensibilities, scaffold their interests, and reinforce their efforts—and to which they can contribute meaningfully. This kind of involvement sends a powerful message to children about the importance of collaboration, and also the importance of books, and of generating discussions about them. 

However, book clubs don’t just materialize. There are logistics that organizers and participants should consider, including what books to read! (See the list of some suggested titles below.) Author and parenting expert Ann Douglas has written an article about launching book clubs (click here), and she offers detailed information on each of the following steps:

  • Decide whether you want to meet face-to-face or online.
  • Invite other parents and ask them to help you spread the word.
  • Promise to deliver a guilt-free book club experience.
  • Keep it simple.

Douglas also provides tips such as being mindful of parents’ busy schedules, and respecting participants’ confidentiality. She also mentions that book clubs that are big enough to purchase copies in bulk should investigate the possibility of a publisher’s discount! 

Douglas concludes by suggesting that book club organizers invite authors to take part in their discussion (or respond to it)—in person or online via Skype, FaceTime or other means. This is a great idea! In fact, at the outset of ABCs of Raising Smarter Kids, I write, “I look forward to discovering what people have to say, and to learning from their interesting, authentic, and varied experiences.”I would welcome the opportunity to join a book club discussion if invited to do so.

LAST WORDS

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all.”  ~ Jacqueline Kennedy

Those words hold true for expanding a parents’ world as well—and for helping them become increasingly informed, strategic, and confident. Parenting is a huge responsibility, and reading (and by extension, book clubs) can provide a means to consider with greater refinement and depth how to be the best possible parent today, tomorrow, and beyond. 

ADDITIONAL READING AND RESOURCES

For more onreading, and other pertinent topics ranging from Ato (including Development, Independence, Motivation, and Opportunities), check out Dr. Joanne Foster’s newest book, ABCs of Raising Smarter Kids: Hundreds of Ways to Inspire Your Child. (See more about this below.) Readers can find additional information about optimal child development in Beyond Intelligence: Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids, and in the award-winning Being Smart about Gifted Education (both co-authored by Dona Matthews and Joanne Foster.) Dr. Foster’s book Bust Your BUTS: Tips for Teens Who Procrastinate received the Independent Book Publishers Association’s 2018 Silver Benjamin Franklin Award, and its predecessor Not Now, Maybe Later: Helping Children Overcome Procrastination provides parents with strategies to motivate kids and instill a greater sense of industry. To learn more about these books, and for access to a wide range of articles and links, go to www.joannefoster.caInformation about professional development workshops and speaker sessions with Dr. Foster can also be found at this website.

Check out the assortment of books published by Gifted Unlimited for excellent resources on supporting and encouraging children’s learning, creativity, and high-level development. 

For a list of “Good Books for Bright Kids” from pre-kindergarten through to young adult, see the link provided by Johns Hopkins Center for Talent Development.

For more information about the 4 steps for creating a book club noted above, read the article “How to Start a Parenting Book Club” by Ann Douglas. 

Here’s a list of parenting books on a variety of topics. These publications will spark stimulating conversations among book club participants:

·      Borba, M. (2016). Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World.Touchstone. 

·      Boyce, T. (2019). The Orchid and the Dandelion: Why Some Children Struggle and How All Can Thrive.  Allen Lane  

·      Cutchlow, T. (2018). Zero to Five: 70 Essential Parenting Tips Based on SciencePear Press. 

·      Delahooke, M. (2019). Beyond Behaviors: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children’s Behavioral ChallengesPESI Publishing. 

·      Dell’Antonia, K. J. (2018). How to Be a Happier Parent: Raising a Family, Having a Life, and Loving (Almost) Every Minute. Avery. 

·      Dimerman, S. (2019). Don’t Leave, Please Go: What You (and Your Teen) Need to Know before Heading to University or CollegePublisher Production Solutions. 

·      Douglas, A. (2019). Happy Parents, Happy Kids. Collins.

·      Eanes, R(2019). The Gift of a Happy Mother. TarcherPerigee.

·      Foster, J. (2019). ABCs of Raising Smarter Kids: Hundreds of Ways to Inspire Your Child Gifted Unlimited, LLC. 

·      Hurley, K. (2018). No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate GirlsTarcherPerigee.

·      Kennedy-Moore, E. (2019). Kid Confidence: Help Your Child Make Friends, Build Resilience, and Develop Real Self-EsteemNew Harbinger Publications.

·      Lahey, J. (2016). The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can SucceedHarper Paperbacks

·      Lapointe, V. (2019). Parenting Right from the StartLifeTree Media.

·      MacNamara, D. (2016). Rest, Play, Grow: Making Sense of Preschoolers (Or Anyone Who Acts Like One). Aona Books.

·      Matthews, D. & Foster, J(2014). Beyond Intelligence: Secrets for Raising Happily Productive KidsHouse of Anansi Press. 

·      Newman, S. (2017). The Book of No: 365 Ways to Say It and Mean ItTurner. 

·      Schafer, A. (2014). Ain’t Misbehaving.OR Honey, I Wrecked the Kids.ORBreaking the Good Mom MythCollins. 

·      Webb, J.; Amend, E.; Beljan, P.; Webb, N.; Kuzujanakis, M.; & Olenchak, R.; Goerss, J. (2016). Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults, 2nd EditionGreat Potential Press. 

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