Reading Roundup: 3 Takes on Family and Community

It’s been awhile since I shared some great books, so it’s time for another Reading Roundup. Other than the fact that all three of these reads have blueish-greenish covers, I thought they were an eclectic group. However, I realized while writing about them that they all touch on themes of family and community. Explains why I liked them so much, and why I think you will, too.

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis. Think a book about a twelve-year-old wouldn’t interest you? Then you haven’t experienced Christopher Paul Curtis’ writing. He’s a master at creating historical fiction through the eyes of young characters, and though his books target middle-grades readers, they are powerful enough for anyone who appreciates a good story. His tale of Deza Malone and her family gave me a fresh perspective on the Great Depression by helping me understand the additional struggles African-Americans faced as they looked for jobs, housing, and schooling. You’ll love Deza’s quirky optimism and determination to help her family when her father must leave their Gary, Indiana, home in search of work, but you’ll also be moved deeply by her courage in the face of suffering. The Mighty Miss Malone is a great one to share with your 5th-8th grader, too, and sure to spring board deep conversations. Check my review of The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 for another Curtis masterpiece.

Giddy Up, Eunice (Because Women Need Each Other) by Sophie Hudson. I got to hear Hudson speak at our church last year where she challenged us to reach across generational differences to build godly friendships with other women. She said, “You will never regret being there for another woman,” and that quickly became a motivator for me for the rest of the year. I was delighted, then, that Giddy Up, Eunice developed that theme with deep dives into three cross-generational friendships of women in the Bible and what they can teach us about being mentors and encouragers to each other. If you have read Hudson’s other books like A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet (also reviewed last time) or if you listen to her “Big Boo Cast” with longtime friend Melanie Shankle, you know Hudson is a wonderful storyteller. Giddy Up, Eunice adds additional scriptural depth that will encourage your soul and motivate you to get out there and make some new friends.

How to Really Love Your Teen by D. Ross Campbell. This classic parenting book was gently updated a few years ago following Dr. Campbell’s death. I referenced it recently while teaching a parenting workshop, and it’s STILL my favorite resource on the way teenagers think and feel. A challenge in parenting teens is that though they look almost grown, they’re still children emotionally. They have a desperate need to know unconditional love from Mom and Dad, even when they don’t act like they want us around. Furthermore, the still-developing adolescent brain doesn’t always equate simple words of affirmation or love with the real thing nor does it always connect the dots that the way we provide for their needs means we love them. Teens must be shown through intentional actions and relationship-building what unconditional love really looks like. Though his work first appeared before the dawn of smart phones, Dr. Campbell’s discussion on the need for focused attention on our teens is more pertinent than ever in the age of electronic distractions. He also spends considerable time on how to lovingly train our kids (and ourselves) to handle anger, how to detect and address teenage depression, and how to help our kids move from being parent-controlled to becoming self-controlled. His wisdom backed by concrete examples from patient case studies and his own parenting journey is practical, relatable, and memorable, making How to Really Love Your Teen a great resource for your parenting library.

 

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