I have been reading The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr. with my son Reese, and what I thought would be a great experience for him has proven to be an especially uplifting and bittersweet experience for me.
But as much as the books are for her, they’re for me, too. They’re my past, my present, and my aspirational future. They’re the soul of my house, if the bane of moving house.
More than a year before I was even pregnant, I read the article in the New York Times, “The Child’s Menagerie” about the relationship between childhood and the animal kingdom, and I was heartbroken to imagine “a future mother will most likely say, when asked if her child will meet a polar bear: No, dear. The polar bears lived a long time ago, when ice still floated on the Arctic seas.” This is the kind of unpleasant reality left out of children’s literature.
Living the Quaker Way (Convergent Books) explores how Quaker virtues of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, and Equality can provide a rewarding spiritual journey for anyone looking to live a more fulfilling life.
One of the biggest challenges I face is allowing myself to actually feel hurt. Perhaps I fear that by allowing myself to hurt, I’ll feel only that and nothing else. I’ll be weak. Out of habit, or genetics, or possibly karma, my immediate instinct when someone bruises me is to go into battle mode. The armor comes on, the fierceness comes into my eyes, and I lace up my black leather boots. I attack, in big or small ways, all the while pretending that I haven’t been hurt at all.
While these students may never struggle with a decision as wrenching as Tim O’Brien’s, all are sure to face agonizing choices in their lives. As they navigate their teen years, they will decide whether to hide or disclose their sexuality, exclude a friend for the sake of a popular group, cheat to get better grades, or use drugs. Voices abound. Learning to hear their own above the din would seem good advice no matter the circumstance.
Holden Caulfield represents the desire of many teenagers to try on new identities.
It’s halfway through summer, but if you’re still looking for a good book, try one (or more) of these titles.