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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Most Wanted Books of Summer 2019

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Looking for something to read this summer? Let us help! Our Reader’s Depot has new book lists every month, so you’ll never run out of books to read. For even more recommendations, visit the Reader’s Depot display on the library’s main level.

city-of-girlsCity of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert – Eighty-nine-year-old Vivian recounts her life after being kicked out of Vassar College, living in Manhattan with her Aunt Peg and the personal mistake that resulted in a professional scandal.

 

The Wedding Partywedding-party.jpg by Jasmine Guillory – After mistakenly spending a night together, Maddie and Theo uncomfortably share bridal party responsibilities for their best friend’s wedding, but despite the sharp barbs they toss at each other, a simmering attraction lingers that just won’t fade.

 

The Mistress of the Ritzmistress-of-the-ritz.jpg by Melanie Benjamin – The director of the luxurious Hotel Ritz in occupied Paris and his courageous American wife, Blanche Auzello, risk their marriage and lives to support the French Resistance during World War II.

 

Resistance Womenresistance-women.jpg by Jennifer Chiaverini – Resisting the power grabs of an increasingly formidable Nazi Party in 1930s Berlin, the courageous American wife of a German intellectual and her circle of women friends engage in a clandestine battle to sabotage Hitler’s regime.

 

The Farmthe-farm.jpg by Joanne Ramos – Ensconced within a Hudson Valley retreat where expectant birth mothers are given luxurious accommodations and lucrative rewards to produce perfect babies, a Filipino immigrant is forced to choose between a life-changing payment and the outside world.

 

The Last Time I Saw Youlast-time.jpg by Liv Constantine – In the aftermath of her mother’s murder, Dr. Kate English reaches out to her estranged best friend Blaire Barrington, a mystery author, who decides to investigate when Kate starts getting anonymous texts from the killer.

 

The Never Gamenever-game by Jeffery Deaver – Colter Shaw is an itinerate “reward-seeker,” traveling the country to help police solve crimes and private citizens locate missing persons. When he learns of a reward for a missing college student in Silicon Valley, he takes the job.

 

Queen Beequeen-bee.jpg by Dorothea Benton Frank – A woman wounded by her past comes to Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina to find new meaning in life and to find herself.

 

Meet Me In Monacomeet-me.jpg by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb – Set in the 1950s against the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s whirlwind romance and unforgettable wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco.

 

night-before.jpgThe Night Before by Wendy Walker – A tale told through parallel accounts of the days before and after a fateful blind date follows a woman’s revelatory investigation into her sister’s disappearance and complicated nature.

 

The Paris Diversionparis.jpg by Chris Pavone – After a leisurely start to a normal day, American expat Kate Moore finds herself partnered with a French agent to investigate a bombing threat in Paris.

 

The Night Windownight-window.jpg by Dean Koontz – When people under Arcadian control begin showing signs of instability, Jane Hawk and her supporters confront the center of power in a showdown that will determine America’s future.

 

The Tenth Musetenth-muse.jpg by Catherine Chung – From childhood, Katherine knows she is different, and that her parents are not who they seem to be. But in becoming a mathematician, she must face the most human of problems—who is she?

 

The Turn of the Keyturn-of-the-key.jpg by Ruth Ware – When a high-paying nanny job at a luxurious Scottish Highlands home ends with her imprisonment for a child’s murder, a young woman struggles to explain to her lawyer the unravelling events that led to her incarceration.

 

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creekbook-woman.jpg by Kim Michele Richardson – A last-of-her-kind outcast and member of the Pack Horse Library Project braves the hardships of Kentucky’s Great Depression and hostile community discrimination to bring the near-magical perspectives of books to her neighbors.

 

Under Currentsunder-currents.jpg by Nora Roberts – Returning to his hometown of Lakeview where his father’s abuse made his childhood a nightmare, Zane Bigelow begins a relationship with Darby McCray, a landscape designer, but his dark past comes back to haunt Zane and threatens their happiness.

 

big-kahuna.jpgThe Big Kahuna by Janet and Peter Evanovich – When unlikely partners FBI agent Kate O’Hare and con man Nicholas Fox investigate a missing Silicon Valley billionaire known as the Big Kahuna, they go undercover as a married couple in Paia, Maui, to find the man’s son.

 

Anna of Kleveanna.jpg by Alison Weir – Chosen as his fourth wife by England’s infamous Henry VIII, Anna of Kleve, a princess from a small German duchy, hides a desperate secret in a hostile foreign court.

 

The Daughter’s Taledaughter.jpg by Armando Lucas Correa – A tale of love and redemption based on the 1944 Oradour-Sur-Glane massacre follows an octogenarian’s receipt of a cache of letters, written by her mother during World War II, that uncover decades of secrets.

 

Recycling your Reading

There are somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the US alone. Even if I do work in the library, that number can be pretty daunting to even the most seasoned reader. If you’re like me, and you have more books than bookshelf, you know what an expensive hobby reading can be. I have to pull myself away from the draw of big box bookstores like Barnes and Noble, and often find myself shocked at the prices of flashy new hardcover titles, or that fancy art print book I’ve had my eye on. Luckily for you and your wallet, there are plenty of ways to get the books you’re after, save some money in the process, as well as still supporting the authors and creators you love.

1. The Library

Of course I’m going to say the library, but you really can’t beat this system! Libraries are built to support readers and authors alike, its free to join the library, and you can request virtually any book. Through our holds system, you can request an obscure book from your childhood, or the newest thriller. There are 30 libraries in our consortium, meaning that if we don’t have what you’re looking for, we can request the book from the thirty other libraries connected to us. You can take out as many as you’d like, and return them when you’re done, saving you from buying a book you may not love (libraries are also good places to donate books when thinning out your bookshelves – most libraries gladly accept gently used books for their collection or book sales). 359,026 items were checked out at the Cheshire Public Library when library statistics were last taken; we have a collection of over 100,000 items in our library alone, and that’s just in the physical building. Which brings me to my next resource, the digital world of reading…

2. Ebooks

If you have a kindle, Ipad, or smartphone, you have access to a world of books, movies and magazines from the comfort of your own home. Our library alone has access to several apps including OverDrive/Libby and RB Digital, that let you download materials for free with your library card. You can also look into Amazon’s Daily or Monthly deals, each day you receive an email letting you know about kindle books that are on sale, some for as little as 99 cents. Have a look at the free classics that Amazon offers, too. There are hundreds of great books, so if you’re a lover of classics you can build your digital library for free!

  • Looking for children’s books? Try the ICDL Foundation’s library. This program has evolved into the world’s largest digital collection of children’s books. Currently its digital library collection includes 4,619 books in 59 languages. The compete ICDL collection is also available as a free iPad app.
  • There’s also Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg is the largest single collection of free electronic books. With more than 40,000 free books in the Project Gutenberg Online Book Collection, there are plenty of options across different genres. The Project Gutenberg site offers download formats suitable for eBook readers, mobile phones, and other devices.

3. Used Books and Thrift Books

My favorite smell in the world is an old book (stereotypical I know) and the best place to find used books can be thrift stores and used book shops. These used bookstores can beat Amazon and other online booksellers on price, offering shoppers both a browsing experience and a money-saving one. Also, profit margins on used books are better than new ones, anscreen-shot-2018-09-19-at-8-09-17-pmd the product they carry is built on the community around it. This creates a unique experience in every bookstore you frequent, you’ll never find the same selection twice. Used bookstores are also the place to go if you’re looking to bulk up your classics collection (I’ve been known to walk out with a stack of mass market Stephen King books for less than five dollars.) Putting your money into these small businesses ensure that a staple in our communities and our culture remains alive. I for one would be sad to live in a world without used book stores. Another place to find books, often a only a few months old, is library book sales. These books can be from the libraries own collection that have been donated or weeded due to lack of circulation (a fancy way of saying they aren’t being checked out as frequently as they were). The Friends of Cheshire Library host two book sales every year, one in the spring and one in the fall, and even includes days where you can fill a shopping bag of books for only five dollars! This is a fantastic way to fill your bookshelves, all while supporting your local library in the process. The funds from these sales go directly to the funding of the library programs and projects.

4. Trade/Swap Books

Have friends who are just as into reading as you are? Start a book swap between friends! This is a fantastic way to read new titles, and share books that you’ve loved with friends. That way, you both get to read them, and talk about your favorite titles and characters. After all, what’s a better gift to give and receive than a new book. I’ve been trading books with friends for years, and I find it’s a fantastic way to read things I normally never would have picked up, and learn more about my friends taste in books. It’s like having an informal book club, without all the pressure of meetings and who’s bringing the snacks.

Luckily there are plenty of ways to find information in our day and age, and plenty of ways to satisfy your book craving. Through clever shopping, or clever borrowing, you can fill you time and your bookshelves with titles you’ve been meaning to read, or meaning to go back to reading. By practicing book “recycling” you can build your collection for a fraction of the price, and feel good about where your collection is coming from. With your support, small town libraries, book stores and independent sellers can continue to thrive and enrich their communities.