Happy Parents, Happy Kids

Perhaps one of the fastest ways to pick a fight with a stranger is to comment on their parenting style. Around the country, let alone around the world, each culture or region is convinced only their way is right. Yet, American education has been in decline for years, currently ranking 27th in the world.  On the world happiness index, the US only ranks 18th. How do we, as parents, raise happy, healthy, well-adjusted and productive children? Let’s take a look at a few approaches to child-rearing from beyond our shores…

Strict Helicopter

Parenting books number nearly as high as the number of parents, but several have made headlines. At one end is Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, by Amy Chua.  China, with more than a billion people vying for jobs, education, and housing, is perhaps the most cut-throat parenting system of all: children seen with potential are removed from homes as young as three, and raised by the state to become champion athletes, mathematicians, scientists. Parents are relentless in ensuring their child’s excellence, demanding study or practice eighteen or more hours a day in a method most Americans would label sheer abuse. Imagine the pressure on an entire class where being #2 is not an option. Chua has no qualms about pushing her daughters into being virtuosos and Ivy League scholars.

Don’t Bug Me, Kid

Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman focuses on the ways the French raise their 

children. “The result of raising children French style, Druckerman writes, is “a fully functioning society of good little sleepers, gourmet eaters and reasonably relaxed parents.””  French parents have a me-first attitude – if the baby won’t sleep through the night by four months, let him cry. They don’t like to breastfeed, because it interferes with intimacy. They don’t speak to their infants in baby talk, treat patience and waiting as the highest virtue after social manners, and feed their infants table food, resulting in children who like to eat normal food. Are French children perfect? Bien sȗr, non, but they seem to have far fewer struggles than Americans.

One Big Happy

The Danish Way of Parenting, by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl may just have a little more power behind it. The Danes often score #1 on the list of Happiest Country in the World. They have high taxes, but they get free education, healthcare, paid maternity leave, and more – those things that are crushing us. To discuss Denmark (and many of the Scandinavian countries), one has to first understand the concept of Hygge, which rules everything the Danish do: Hygge (pronounced hue-guh or hoo-guh) is that warm, huggy feeling of comfort you get when you’re doing something with your family: sitting by the fire drinking cocoa, playing a board game, or maybe decorating cookies together, in one of those commercial-like scenarios where everyone is happy and the kids aren’t fighting and the dog isn’t chewing the game pieces – except, in Denmark, this is actually reality. It’s the land where Norman Rockwell must have taken notes.

The Danes rear their children with this mindset, which transforms them into happy adults. In (very) short:

  1. Don’t overpraise. Find something specific and praise that one thing instead. “What a nice, straight line!” Encourage growth; don’t let your child think s/he’s perfect.
  2. Let your child play. Play. With sticks, rocks, toys, not electronics. Play builds thinking skills, motor skills, social skills, and spatial relations a child needs for education.
  3. Promote togetherness. Family game nights, dinner, movies, puzzles, walks or sports or just playing in the park. Do it together, or with friends. This promotes strong social ties and models appropriate behavior. 40% of American families eat dinner together less than three times a week – 10% never do.
  4. Reframe negative thinking. Dwell on good things, not bad. If your child says they hate school, remind them of the things they do like.
  5. Practice empathy and compassion. Talk about emotions, and help your child learn to recognize them in themselves and others. Compassion for people and animals makes for a caring society.
  6. Let children figure things out for themselves. Don’t hover. Let preschoolers settle their own squabbles (within reason. If Agatha is beating Bjorn with a shovel, you might want to step in). 

There are no absolutes to child rearing. Some children are just darling; others seem to come out of the womb looking for trouble. But in a time when Americans are fracturing at the seams from stress, when schools are failing, children are parenting themselves, and society itself seems to be tearing apart, perhaps it’s time to look elsewhere for advice. Considering the Danes were terrorized by two World Wars and are still the happiest people on Earth, maybe we should listen.

Also try:

        

 

Three Outstanding Women of Science Fiction

Our sci-fi-guy, Harold Kramer, has some authors to recommend:

Ursula K. Le Guin

The world of science fiction and fantasy lost two of its best writers in recent years: Ursula K. Le Guin and Vonda McIntyre. Ursula K. Le Guin, who I consider one of the greatest science fiction and fantasy writers of the 20th century, died in 2018. She published over twenty-two novels, children’s books, and volumes of poetry and essays. Her works received many awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and National Book Award.

Her novels centered around two main themes: gender and political systems. Her 1969 novel, The Left Hand of Darkness is about the effect of gender on culture and society,  It won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novel.  An example of novel based on political themes is The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia, also a winner of both a Hugo and a Nebula Award.  It is about two planets orbiting next to each other – that have almost no contact between them and that have totally different economic and political systems – and the scientist who tries to unite the two worlds. I recently re-read The Dispossessed and it is still relevant today, particularly in our current political environment.

The Dispossessed is the first of six books in Le Guin’s Hainish Cycle. These novels are loosely connected by a people called the Hainish, who colonized earth and other planets hundreds of thousands of years ago. The Left Hand of Darkness is a Hainish novel along with Rocannon’s World and Planet of Exile.

Le Guin also wrote The Books of Earthsea, a series that is decidedly more fantasy than science fiction. It full of magical events and it is the story of a young wizard – a sort of precursor to Harry Potter. The first book in the series, A Wizard of Earthsea, is still a great read. The Earthsea collection of novels and short stories won the National Book Award, a Newbery Honor, the Nebula Award, and many other honors.

Vonda McIntyre

Vonda McIntyre passed away in 2019. She was a prolific writer of science fiction novels, novelizations, screenplays and short stories and she was an acclaimed teacher of writing.  

She was well known for her Star Trek novels that include The Entropy Effect and Enterprise: The First Adventure. She also wrote the novelizations of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Most readers agree that Dreamsnake is McIntyre’s greatest novel and it is based on her earlier novelette, Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand. It is about Snake, a female healer who possesses miraculous powers and a magical Dreamsnake.

Octavia Butler

My final recommendation is Kindred by Octavia Butler. Kindred has been acknowledged as the first widely known novel by a black, woman science fiction writer. It is a time travel story about Dana, a black woman, who in 1976 is abruptly transported back and forth, from her home in California to antebellum Maryland, where she encounters her ancestors and becomes enslaved. At its core, Kindred is about white supremacy, slavery, and, ultimately, survival. Butler is also the author of Lilith’s Brood, a collection of three works: DawnAdulthood Rites, and Imago. These dystopian novels were previously published in one volume called Xenogenesis. The New York Times said thatThe complete series is about an alien species that could save humanity after nuclear apocalypse—or destroy it”—from “one of science fiction’s finest writers.

30,000+ audiobooks are waiting for you!

Did you hear? Cheshire Library recently announced the dramatic expansion of our RBdigital audiobook collection. With over 34,000 titles, there’s something for everyone—from classics to bestselling new titles, debut authors to major literary prize winners, children’s literature to business books, and more. With your Cheshire Library card, you’ll have access to thousands of free audiobooks!

 

 

 

The core collection of these audiobook titles are unlimited access—always available for immediate access without holds or delays. We will also be adding new titles to the collection every month, with the traditional borrowing model (1 user at a time). So while you’re waiting for that bestseller to become available, there are over 30,000 titles to select from in the meantime (everything from classics like The Hobbit and Great Expectations to contemporary favorites like Red Rising and Outlander, in addition to nonfiction, self-help, children’s titles, and more)!

You can listen to audiobooks at home from your computer, or on-the-go from your tablet or smartphone. You can also have up to 10 audiobooks checked out at a time with no monthly limits!  Find the link to our RBdigital collection on our website, or download the app to listen on a mobile device:

 

 

We’re really excited to be offering this service to our patrons. Try our new expanded audiobook collection and let us know what you think!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Teens & Community Service: Being Part of Something Bigger than Yourself

Today’s post is by our Teen Librarian, Kelley:

Teenage community service is more than something that adults insist will look good on a high school resume. It is often a requirement for graduating high school and it’s a great way for students to build their skill sets. More importantly, volunteer opportunities for teens and high school students can be a life-changing experience, one that allows teens to expand their horizons and foster meaningful relationships. Community service can point to new interests, new friends, and if you’re really lucky, maybe even a lifelong career. And yeah, okay, it’ll also look great on college applications!But where to start? Volunteering implies responsibility, and might seem intimidating. How can you be sure you’re finding opportunities that are right for you? There are always easy entry points, like the service clubs at high schools or helping out at a local library, but beyond that, the options can get overwhelming. So where should you look? There are many local and national volunteer agencies and non-profit organizations that accept teens under 18 who are interested in everything from working with animals to crafting for charities, and we’ve put together a volunteering resource for the teens of Cheshire, which is located on the teen page of our website.

Curious about still more community service ideas? Many other kinds of community groups are looking for volunteers, and some may not have occurred to you. Most of us know that hospitals, libraries, and churches use volunteers for a great deal of their work, but here are some volunteer opportunities that may not have crossed your mind:

  • Day Care Centers, Neighborhood Watch, Public Schools and Colleges
  • Community Theaters, Fraternal Organizations and Civic Clubs
  • Arts Councils, Boys & Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Meals on Wheels
  • Literacy Groups, Museums, Art Galleries, and Monument Sites
  • Community Choirs, Bands and Orchestras, Music Therapy Programs
  • Neighborhood Parks, Youth Organizations, Sports Teams and After-school Programs
  • Historical Restorations, Battlefields and National Parks

Good luck! We know you’ll soon be on the path to community service superstardom!

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in August

It’s hot outside, but it’s cool inside at Cheshire Public Library, and we don’t just mean the temperature! Check out some of the cool programming we’ve got coming up in August:

Movie Matinees

Tuesdays from 1:00 – 3:00pm

Beat the heat and enjoy a movie on the big screen every Tuesday afternoon in August. This month we’re playing “Who did it best?”, comparing remakes to their original films. No registration required.

Open Art Studio in the Library Loft

Fridays, 1:00 – 3:00pm

Bring your works in progress and supplies (no turpentine, please!) to this drop-in art program. This is an opportunity to create in a collaborative environment with other artists. No formal instruction will be provided, but informal critiquing for those who want it is encouraged. Table covers will be provided. There is a sink in the room for basic cleanup. No registration required.

UFO Experience with Stephen Spignesi

Thursday, August 8, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Join us as Stephen Spignesi returns to present on his acclaimed book The Big Book Of UFO Facts, Figures & Truth. What are the 5 types of Close Encounters? Who are the Men in Black? How are mysterious Crop Circles related to the UFO Phenomenon? Register for this program and find out!

Mystic Aquarium Comes to Cheshire: The Touch Tank Experience (kids ages 4-up)

Thursday, August 15, 2019, 5:00 – 5:45pm

Enjoy fun, active learning with hands-on investigations of live animals and rare biofacts from the Mystic Aquarium.  Young children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  For ages 4 and up. Please register starting August 1.

Mystic Aquarium Comes to Cheshire: The Touch Tank Experience – ADULT SESSION

Thursday, August 15, 2019, 6:00 – 6:45pm

Experience the same class presentations as those at Mystic Aquarium but closer to home! Don’t miss this unique hands-on opportunity. Learn about and get up-close-and-personal with live marine invertebrates like include crabs, lobsters, snails and other shellfish. Please note this session is for ages 18 and up.  Registration is required.

Summer Adventure Finale (all ages)

Friday, August 16, 2019, 2:00 – 4:00pm

Wrap up our summer adventure with games, dancing, activities, and ice cream! Which lucky (or unlucky) librarian will get slimed? Please register so we know how many goodies to provide.

Exploring the Night Sky

Tuesday, August 20, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Have you ever looked up into the night sky and felt lost? Have you thought about buying a telescope but don’t even know how to find a single constellation? Dr. Kristine Larson, professor of astronomy at CCSU, will help you learn how to start exploring the night sky without expensive equipment. Registration is required.

Starry Night ~ Craft Program

Thursday, August 22, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Join us for a short film lecture on the life and art of Dutch Post-Impressionist painter, Vincent Willem van Gogh and then create your own work of art in his style. All materials will be provided. Registration required for this  adult( 18+)  program. The winners for the Adult/Teen Cheshire Library Summer Adventure will be revealed at the conclusion of this event.  Please have all bingo and reading logs in by August 17.

Books Over Coffee: The Great Gatsby doubleheader

Want to engage in great discussions about books? Meet new people? Eat lunch with friends? Join us for an adult monthly book club program called “Books Over Coffee.”  On the last Wednesday of every month from 12-1:30pm we’ll meet to discuss the selected title. You bring your lunch, we’ll provide the coffee and tea. We will read two books this month The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of The Great Gatsby by Sarah Churchwell. Copies will be available to check out. Registration is required.

Special Trivia Night : All Things Cheshire

Wednesday, August 28, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Join us for a special trivia night in honor of Cheshire being settled 325 years ago.  Come test your knowledge of all things Cheshire. Multiple choice answers will be available. Come by yourself or bring friends, test your knowledge from general categories including pop culture, current events, history, music, and of course literature! It’s all for pride, not prize. Registration required for this adult program. When registering please register entire group from one person to a max five people.

Jim Hawk Productions

Thursday, August 29, 2019, 6:00 – 8:00pm

Cheshire Connecticut’s independent filmmaker, James W. Hawk and guest host Ron Gagliardi will be screening five of his short films. Hawk’s films were all made in and around Cheshire. Registration is required. The evening’s program will include:

  • THE UNFORGIVEN – drama – “No matter how thin you slice it, there will always be two sides,”
  • CONNOR – drama – “Like father, like son.”
  • VERDICT – drama – “WIN…whatever the cost!”
  • THE SATURN MISSION – science fiction – “The search for the truth.”
  • SHADOWS ON NEW SNOW AND WIND IN THE OLD OAK TREE – experimental time-lapse