Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What I'm Reading: Kid's Summer Reading

My 7th Grader read Crash by Jerry Spinelli. Like most of his books, it was a funny quirky book about bullies and non-conformists.  We both liked it, but my son hated the ending because he didn't find the it realistic.  
4 stars

My 10th grade daughter read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.
There was so much negative buzz about this book when it came out, that I never had any desire to read a parenting guide from such a monster of a mother.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover it wasn't a parenting guide, but a mother's memoir of raising her daughters.  While some of her methods are extremely harsh, she really loved her girls and wanted the best for them. I think the media took quotes out of context to stir up controversy and most of the people that were so incensed by the book never read it.

I'm not a tiger mother, but probably stricter than most. Before I had kid's, the rule was that every kid had to pick an instrument.  My oldest chose piano. I threatened bribed and bullied her to practice when she was younger, but now she practices on her own (nowhere near 6-7 hours a day).  

My friend Monica is the world's most amazing Suzuki violin teacher, and so we signed my son up for lessons.  He has a natural sense of rhythm and could play by ear, but he absolutely detested practicing. Our daily practice sessions quickly disintegrated into a daily fight.  After a year, I realized that my desire to have a close a loving relationship with my son outweighed my desire to have him play the violin.  

Sports ended up being a better fit for him. I knew I made the right decision, after a particularly brutal football game.  The other team's classless parents booed and taunted our players and encouraged their kids to play dirty throughout entire game. As the team's captain/quarterback, my ten year old lined up first to shake hands with the other team after the game.  I have never been as proud, when I saw him turn around to his teammates and demand , "All you say is 'Good Game' ".  I knew sports were helping him become a great leader and the man I wanted him to become. 

I want to read this with my bookclub-we would have such great discussions. Here's what I took away from the book:

Children should never be belittled. However, we need to stop telling our kids, "Good Job" so much and maybe ask them, "Is this really your best work?" a little more.  We need to expect great things from our kids and push them a little when needed. I also agree with Chua that we worry too much about our kid's self esteem, failing to realize our kids gain self esteem by working hard and accomplishing their goals and not by hearing empty unearned praises. Don't even get me started on the every-kid-gets-a-trophy-moment.

FYI: Here's her daughter's response to all the criticism.

Have you read either of these books?  What was on your kid's summer reading list.

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