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March 2023

I’ve come to the point in my blogging life when I just simply have to make a list of books.  I’ve read some great ones lately, but I don’t have the time to write posts about them all.  So in no particular order, here’s what I’ve been reading the last few weeks:

Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop:  A great juvenile historical fiction about the anti-child labor movement in the U.S.

The Bright Side of Disaster by Katherine Center: The perfect chick lit for a new mom.  Center writes with humor and honesty about being a new mom, yet somehow manages to throw in some romance at the same time.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See:  Explores women’s friendship, secret writing and foot binding in China.  Even though the book is about so much more than foot binding, what will stick with me are the graphic descriptions of the foot binding process.  I had to skip several pages because I was feeling nauseous just reading about it.

Rutka’s Notebook: A Voice From the Holocaust: A newly discovered journal, kept by a 14 year old Jewish girl, living in Poland.

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller: Made me want to go back to teaching.  Can’t wait for my own kids to read!  Pre-teachers and current teachers should read this book to regain perspective on what our job as teachers is all about.

Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons  A love story.  Mostly good, but the ending was just strange.  I wouldn’t bother with it.

The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect us From Violence by Gavin DeBecker:  Absolutely fascinating.  A must-read especially for women.  De Becker is a well known security professional, and writes knowledgeably about how to protect yourself by listening to your intuition.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon:  Set in Spain.  Young Daniel unravels the mystery of a stranger who is roaming through Europe, burning every book he can find by Daniel’s favorite author.

Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos:  A companion book to Belong to Me.

Where the River Ends by Charles Martin:  Look out Nicholas Sparks.  Martin’s southern romance is much sweeter and deeper than anything Sparks has written recently.  Doss and Abbie battle cancer together through a river journey.

This book was so fantastic, and there’s so much I’d like to say about it, but I don’t have the time!  I do encourage parents and those who are about to become parents to read this book.  I’ve read a lot about children and parenting–discipline, sleep schedules, feeding, health, etc.  But I never considered the importance of reading a marketing book until now.  This book has changed the way I watch TV, stroll through Target and make any type of purchase decision for my children.

A few highlights:

  • “A marketer who establishes ‘educational credit’ can get away with anything.” p. 3
  • “Baby Einstein offers bright, shiny chaos…[the researcher] speculated that babies seemed riveted by these videos because they were sucked into a loop from which they couldn’t escape.  Every time they tried to process what they were seeing, to make sense of an object or action, the scene would shift to something different.” p. 104
  • “Good marketers realize that [young children] see characters and figures right away, and they want kids to recognize the product, and the best way to do that is through characters.” p. 125
  • Regarding books based on licensed characters, according to an author of such books: “These books are not sold on the writing…These books are sold on concept and cover design.  Buyers for a Wal-Mart or a Barnes & Noble don’t say, ‘Let me see how well-written the stories are.’  The writing–and even the pictures–are, unfortunately, not that important.” p. 178
  • Regarding free “curriculum” that Scholastic and Disney give away to thousands of preschools and daycares nationwide:  “…most teachers keep the video of the TV show to pop in the VCR…and even more important, put up the poster featuring the TV-show characters in a place where the children can clearly see it every day.”  “They’re getting exposure to the character and the idea that it’s educational.  That’s really the goal, as far as marketing goes.”  p. 204

Wondering how Baby Einstein changed everything about marketing to parents and children?  Ever considered the crazy success of Thomas & Friends?  How about the “Disney Princess” family?  And then there’s Elmo’s World, Nickelodeon, Leap Frog, Playhouse Disney, Sesame Street…

How is a parent to combat the constant barrage of marketing?  Susan Thomas’ simple conclusion:

To vaccinate against the baby genius virus…may require participating in something many of us are uncomfortable with: doing Nothing…Doing Nothing means that adults and their young children have periods of unstructured time when they can see what just unfolds.  Doing Nothing isn’t mediated by television, classes, computers, or educational toys…Whatever else, doing Nothing isn’t overthinking; it’s just hanging out.  To adults, this may not seem like much, but to babies and toddlers, it is the foundation of life [emphasis mine].  p. 227

Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay: And Other Things I Had to Learn as a New MomA sarcastic and humorous glimpse into the world of a first-time mom.  You can’t take this book seriously, as it will probably make fun of some aspect of parenting that you hold near and dear.  However, every new mom needs a good laugh, and this one made me laugh out loud.  So if you’re caught in the drudgery of being a mom, check out this book and laugh at yourself and your life.  Trust me, you’ll feel better!

I just discovered the sequel…Naptime is the New Happy Hour.  As I’m thoroughly enjoying the fact that BOTH of my kids are sleeping AT THE SAME TIME, I couldn’t agree more.