Gumy, Otters, Autism, and Love from His Extraordinary Son by Tom Fields-Meyer is a great book for all parents, not just parents of a child with autism, though in it the author lovingly chronicles 10 years of his son Ezra's life, and Ezra is autistic. What attracted me to this book at the library was the front cover, but what hooked me was the description on the back over. The father is told by a therapist that he should grieve for the child his son didn’t turn out to be. However, Fields-Meyer’s response was quite the opposite, as the back cover states, his response was to “love the child Ezra was, a quirky boy with a fascinating and complex mind.” It shows how the family (and Ezra himself) learns to celebrate the positive aspects of autism, like Ezra’s superhuman memory and zest for life. It reminds me to celebrate all that my boys are. As a parent, I appreciate the message that rings clear in the book of the importance of embracing and loving our children as they are -- now that does not mean we do not nurture them, guide them and discipline them when necessary -- but the book demonstrates the importance of letting children be who they are, rather than weighing them down with our own hopes and dreams as their parents. I was lovingly reminded to follow my children through each childhood obsession and to nurture them as develop hopes and dreams of their own.
Amy Krouse Rosenthal also gives us a peek into her life as a parent. You are probably more familiar with Amy Krouse Rosenthal through her children's books, like Duck! Rabbit!, a favorite of ours. However, she also writes books for adults and The Mother's Guide to the Meaning of Life is an easy read that I like because you can pick it up and read it in spurts and sections enjoying the little gems and joys, struggles and challenges of motherhood that she shares, which I am sure you will relate to just as I did. This book also helped me to let go and accept myself a bit more as a mama. Not surprisingly, since mother's tend to be champion multi-taskers, multi-tasking comes up a lot in the book, and while I do my fair share of it, I did decide at the beginning of 2013 to try and limit multi-tasking, instead slowing down to make sure I am focusing on one thing at a time, as much as possible, to improve ability to be present to my family and life.
The Rhythm of Family: Discovering a Sense of Wonder Through the Seasons by Amanda Blake Soule of Soule Mama (http://soulemama.com/) written with Stephen Soule, her husband, is a book that helps exactly with that goal -- slowing down, savoring each season, each moment and each experience with our families as she provides different activities that families can do and items families can make for each month of the year. May focuses on flower activities, and this book got a previous Project 101 shout out.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver is another book that encourages a focus on family time and slowing down to savor the seasons and moments of our lives together. For the Kingsolver family this happens through food, which I completely relate to as someone who loves to cook. In November, our family made a commitment to family dinner unplugged, and we love it. With warm weather and summer approaching, this often means dinner outside that is cooked on the grill with the boys playing the backyard as we eat. The book always inspires me to cook more and to work harder to eat seasonally and locally. Though I have read it before, I found revisiting it now quite beneficial. Summer is a perfect time to start a habit of eating seasonally and of sharing unplugged meals together as a family, since seasonal summer fruits and vegetables are plentiful and delicious almost anywhere that you live.
To round out what I have been reading lately as part of the Weekly Library Challenge I am sharing a book that took me back to my own childhood: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by Mervyn Peake with introductions by Will Self and Zadie Smith. (You can read any version you like, but I did appreciate the introductions offered in this version and that both Alice stories were combined in one book).
It amazed me how much my memory was full of the movies, rather than the book, except for Jabberwocky, the playful poem in Through The Looking Glass that I so vividly remembered reading as a child. What Carroll does so well in these stories is capture the essence of childhood -- full of imagination, playfulness and larger than life make-believe. Remembering that and celebrating it through this book renews my own sense of wonder and helps me join my sons in their spirited and imaginative explorations of the world around them. Pick up any childhood chapter book that you loved and take it with you to the beach this summer. Or, depending on the age of your child, read it aloud together.
Lastly, of course, I do have to share a book that the boys have been enjoying lately. Leo Leonni was the May author of the Virtual Book Club for Kids, and we shared various activities we did with Little Blue and Little Yellow. Another Leonni book the boys have been enjoying is A Color of His Own about a chameleon who desperately wants a color of his own. To go with this book, I really love the water color painting and color matching activity that Stir The Wonder shared as part of the Virtual Book Club for Kids link-up this month.
And, just in case you missed it, we shared a Summer Reading List for little ones on the blog recently too.
Do you have a book I should add to my library list? How about a suggestion for a great beach book for me this summer or your favorite childhood chapter book? Please share!