4 Great Reads (parenting, climate, and inspiring fiction)

(First posted at Moms Clean Air Force)

The dog days of summer are here. The last few beauties before the busy fall kicks in. Have you lingered on your porch with a good book? There is still time.

Here are the latest books in the areas of climate change, nature, parenting and historical fiction that are on my to-read list!

While Glaciers Slept: Staying Human in the Time of Climate by M. Jackson

Understanding the science of climate change is not enough. As parent activists, we must get the heart of our issue — how climate change affects children. Families and community stories are vital to the movement.

These are complex times we are living in. One cannot separate the loss involved with climate change and our human hearts, or so M. Jackson, author of the new book While Glaciers Slept: Staying Human in the Time of Climate Change shares. Publishing this month, the book’s foreword is written by climate hero Bill McKibben.

According to the Library Journal:

 “Reminiscent of Bill ­McKibben’s Eaarth, this title will interest readers of environmental issues, particularly climate change and a warming Arctic region, and fans of personal narratives.”

Make climate change personal? Yes, please. We need more passion and heart driven action. I’m looking forward to this one!

How to Raise an Adult: Break Free from the Overparenting Trap and Prepare your Kid for Success by Julie Lythcott-Hains

I have a 10 year old. I can barely face the idea that she will be in fifth grade shortly and embarking on the middle school years. I know it’s time for her to start having more responsibility and independence. So when I saw How to Raise an Adult: Break Free From the Overparenting Trap and Prepare your Kid for Succes, I was very interested. According to Lythcott-Hains (and the many teachers, admissions officers, and employers she interviewed), helicoptering our kids into many life-long problems has to change course.

According to Daniel Pink (Have you read his book, A Whole New Mind? Another great one.):

“Have the good intentions of American parents gone awry? In this timely and bracing work, Julie Lythcott-Haims chronicles the many dangers of overparenting — from thwarting children’s growth to hurting their job prospects to damaging parents’ own well-being. Then she charts a smart, compassionate alternative approach that treats kids as wildflowers to be nourished rather than bonsai trees to be cultivated.”

I’m all for hearty-self reliance and grit — especially for raising kids who are ready to tackle the world’s most vexing problems: poverty, climate change, and living sustainably. As the smart mamas at the recent Play In for Climate Action noted, we need to be able to talk about hard things with our kids — like issues of climate change. Otherwise, “You’re going to have ignorant adults who think everything is a fairy tale, and it’s not,” said Victoria Gutierrez, a Moms Clean Air Force Play-In attendee. Ignorance and helicopter parenting is not going to help raise independent, strong kids who can fight climate change.

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

I can’t go anywhere this summer without someone either recommending this book or telling me they are currently reading it. H is for Hawk chronicles Macdonald’s life as she tries to deal with the sudden death of her father and finds herself drawn to the wild goshawk. As an experienced falconer, she finds power, solace, and a challenge in trying to train and work with a fierce goshawk. This book blends personal narrative, nature writing, and humor in a new and creative way.

According to Time magazine,

“Extraordinary . . . indelible . . . [it contains] one of the most memorable passages I’ve read this year, or for that matter this decade . . . Mabel is described so vividly she becomes almost physically present on the page.”

Who couldn’t use inspiration and lessons from nature on life, death, loss and our collective wandering, wild spirit?

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

When I saw this new book by Sue Monk Kidd, I knew I had to read it. This is the author of one of my favorite books, The Secret Life of Bees. I had no idea what The Invention of Wings was about when I picked it up. This searing book takes place in Charleston, South Carolina during the shameful time of slavery. It is set in the early 1800s and based on the lives of abolitionists and suffragettes Sara and Nina Grimke, who rallied against slavery and were banished from their church and town because of their activism. But how did their lives start? This is where The Invention of Wingsbegins. It is the harrowing story of three women whose journeys intertwine and intersect across lines of friendship, slavery, feminism, loss, utter despair and unending hope. What arises is a sense of place and time that few understand and how relationships can transcend even the most terrible of foundations.

This book shows how women have always been central to passionate causes that intersect across lines of race, gender, equality and environment. One cannot separate these issues. While the book focuses on race and gender, it provides an inspiring narrative of women working together despite incredible challenges, misinformation, terrible policies, and serious setbacks. Sound familiar to the struggle to fight climate change? The stakes are incredibly high and we face many obstacles, but our work must continue, just as the Grimke’s did.

Have you read any of these books? Please let us know what’s on your reading list!

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