As soon as cold weather rolls in, I start daydreaming about becoming a full-time hermit with a stack of books and a hot tea. I’m definitely in Fall Reading mode, so this edition of What We’re Reading includes more review than usual.
While visiting Finland this summer, I was struck by how much safer it felt–I’m not talking about crime–but the cultural and legal sense of every person’s right to basic well-being. My husband had to visit an urgent care clinic, but we weren’t worried about what it would cost; in fact, we paid less out of pocket than we would have for the same care here in Minnesota with health insurance. So when I read The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life by journalist and Finnish expat Anu Partanen, I wanted to shout from the rooftops.
This is the American Library Association’s annual Banned Books Week! One of my favorite sources for literature and media, A Mighty Girl, has thoughtful suggestions for banned books to read and an article about Judy Blume’s fight against censorship. I’ve got a long library list. I believe in reading developmentally-appropriate books, but many books are challenged for being too honest about difficult circumstances, race, religion, sexuality, or for not matching mainstream social norms. Books that expand worldviews or allow readers to relate to a character and feel understood are so important, especially if they have painful or challenging themes and narratives.
My other reading lately has not been from the banned and challenged books lists, but I wanted to share recent favorites anyway.
Alexandra and I went with her BFF and her BFF’s mom to see Elephant and Piggie’s We Are in a Play at Children’s Theatre Company. As I hoped, it prompted an interest in Mo Willems‘ books. Most of his hilarious books are Easy Readers, and just right for her as a level 1 reader.
I’ve been reading the kids my favorite Halloween picture book, Little Goblins Ten by Pamela Jane, illustrated by Jane Manning. A brilliant twist on the nursery rhyme “Over in the Meadow”, spooky (but not scary) creatures are gorgeously illustrated. This book excels in rhyming, alliteration, counting, and esthetics.
I read Brain on Fire:My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan for my book club this month. It’s a memoir of her mysterious and rapid spiral to a psychotic break, her lifesaving diagnosis, and how she pieces herself back together. Her story is terrifying and heartwarming at the same time, and it raises awareness about the gaping need for collaboration between medical and psychiatric research and treatment.
What are you reading? Anything on the naughty list?