Reading With My Boys

Using Books to Raise My Boys

Teen Scene: Things I want my Boys to Really Understand

on March 7, 2013

One of my favorite kind of books is one that opens up people in this world and helps us understand what we cannot from where we sit.  I want my kids to understand that their thoughts and ways of doing things are not the only ones out there.  I want them to have empathy and understanding for others.  I feel incredibly blessed (for more than one reason) to have a son who is black.  I don’t have to read to my children a book about empathy and understanding for blacks so that I can say, “you are not so different, you are all children of God, we do not disrespect people that aren’t the same color as you,”  They would look at me like, “duh mom.”  But, there are a lot of people they haven’t shared a home with, hard things that they haven’t seen, and I want them to be given opportunities through literature to develop some compassion and understanding.  There are some books I read to my kids just because I want them to “get it” and if a story does that and makes me love it, then it’s a favorite.  So here’s the ever-expanding list of favorites:

1.  With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo  Reverand Everlasting Love travels all around America sharing God’s word with people for a few weeks before moving on.  On one stop his daughter finds they need to stop a little longer and help a boy and a town to understand more about real love.

2.  True…Sort Of  by Katherine Hannigan Delly Peterson is sure a surpresent (a present that is a surprise)  is on it’s way.  What she finds is a special friend that has faced more than his share of hardships.  Things that are tackled in this winner are child abuse and the true meaning of friendship.

3.  The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt I had to stop reading this book in public because I laughed so hard I couldn’t make myself be quiet!  Holling Hoodhood (seriously his name) thinks he’s in for real trouble in 1967 when he get stuck with Mrs. Baker when all the other kids go off for religious worship.  Next thing he knows he’s enduring Shakespeare (and surprisingly loving it).  This book is a great coming of age story, Holling learns about the meaning of family, friendship and being willing to step outside the box, truly one of my very favorites (If you like this you must read Okay for Now which is a story about another boy in this book who is portrayed as a bully, but when he moves away he gets to try on a different personality and finds a much better fit).

4.  Out Of My Mind by Sharon Draper  Melody is confined to a wheel chair and cannot speak due to cerebral palsy, but that has no bearing on her brilliant mind.  With help of a computer she starts sharing her brilliance with the world and opens some otherwise closed minds to the reality that just because she is different doesn’t mean she isn’t amazing.  This story is very realistic and in the end there are still bridges left to cross and the kids is her class still don’t “get it”.  As a grown up I wanted to see that happy ending that I knew could be there, but the reality is there are still lessons to learn.  When I read it to my kids I hope they see the injustice and hope to be a different kind of creature.

5.  My Louisiana Sky by Kimberly Willis Holt Tiger faces a great amount of teasing from the girls at her school because her folks are so different from others.  Her parents are mentally slow and she really handles the grown up stuff in her home.  This is a great story of reversed roles and I think can really help  kids see how blessed they are to have parents who are parents.

6.  The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes  Wanda wears the same dress to school everyday and faces teasing from the girls at school, she tells them she has 100 dresses at home and it isn’t until she doesn’t show up one day that the girls discover what that means.  These girls finally begin to learn the meaning of kindness and generosity.

7.  Mockingbird  by Katherine Erskine Go inside the mind of a fabulous girl with Asberger’s syndrome and see how different isn’t bad, in fact it’s absolutely necessary for healing.

8.  The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen I jumped at the chance to buy this book because of the title, who doesn’t dream about running!  16 year old Jessica is a runner and when she loses her leg in an accident she has to recover  physically and figure out who she is since she defined herself in terms of her running accomplishments.  Soon she learns who she is and that she can still accomplish her dreams and help others along the way.  A great read for pointing out that nothing is impossible.

9.  Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli In a high school that has always been the same Stargirl (she changed her name to that) is at first welcomed for her eccentricities, but eventually shunned for them.  The real problem hits when a friend talks her into conforming.  I tell my kids all of the time that normal is not allowed.  That might seem a little odd, but I’m not raising sheep and if what makes them who they are makes them weird than so be it.

10.  The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare A boy learns who he is and what he really wants from life by starting out as an enemy to the Savior Himself and finding that he can’t resist the love and the message of who He is.

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