You know what is wonderful for moms/parents? Or commuters? Audiobooks. You can even get them from your local library, for free. There’s no way I can read with my busy toddler running around/whining to be held. But I do drive a lot, and while lying quietly with a bottle before naps or bedtime, or just playing on the floor, I can listen to a book. Here’s what I’ve read and liked recently:
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
A teen in foster care befriends an elderly woman and learns about her experience as a rider on the “Orphan Trains” of the 1920s. The flashback parts of the story were really captivating, and the present-day story was ok.
The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh
Very similar to the movie “The Painted Veil”, a young woman has no choice but to accept an arranged marriage to a doctor in colonial South Africa. This story moved right along and brought to life the politics of diamond mining during this time period, as well as the cultural and physical landscape of South Africa in the 19th century.
The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan
A half-American, half-Chinese child is sold into a courtesan house, and must make the best of life from that point on. She does eventually marry, but loses her husband to an outbreak of influenza, and loses her daughter to a legal loophole. She goes on to become 3rd wife to an abusive Chinese husband, before finally escaping in hopes of reuniting with the mother she lost long ago. A story of the bond between friends and mother and daughter. Very engrossing!
Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage by Kay Bratt
This is the memoir of an expat living in rural China who volunteers in the local orphanage and becomes deeply attached to the children’s cause. I think this is a must-read for anyone who works with “orphans”, whether they be adopted or foster children or children in foreign orphanages.
All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting by Jennifer Senior
A good read citing many well-done studies focusing on the effects of parenting on the parent. Mostly, the author explores the incongruity between studies that find that parents rate time with their children lower on a fun scale than they do other activities, and yet consistently rate parenting as their most rewarding activity in hindsight. Also brings valuable perspective to the history of parenting trends (such as the fact that working mothers today spend more “quality time” with their children than housewives did in the 1960s, self-reported).
Einstein Never Used Flashcards by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff
Another parenting book that uses recent and peer-reviewed studies well, and also delves into the scientific learning processes that take place within a child’s brain. If you’re interested in knowing how your kid ticks, this is a pretty good read. The take-home message is simple, though… kids learn through play and hands-on manipulation, so no amount of force-feeding facts and figures will increase their IQ.