For me, my sweet tooth got a happy work out and I am good for a while at McDonalds and Starbucks. But I also received a calorie-free gift, several gift cards to Barnes and Noble. With these, I got to make my annual pilgrimage to the book store (yes, I still read paper books), and came away with some great holiday reading. I managed to read four very different books, two of which could make their way on to our Upper School Summer Reading List. I recommend them to you as good possibilities to read with your older children.
The first was Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J.D. Vance. Vance is first-generation removed from the hills of eastern Kentucky and he grew up in a failing industrial town in southwestern Ohio. The first in his family to attend college, Vance eventually graduated from Yale Law School and now is a successful businessman in Northern California. The story is an incredible look at the struggles of poor, working class white families dispossessed from their culture by the global economy and automation. Given the attention this demographic received in the most recent presidential election and the proximity of Roanoke to Appalachia, Vance’s family story provides real insight to the plight of a forgotten group of Americans. There is a little bit of salty language, but I think there is great information to stimulate discussion of major topics facing the next generation.
So, why am I using Crossties to suggest these additions to your reading list? Because I think that reading is the single, largest variable that determines academic success of your child. If you can start your child on the path to reading for pleasure, then you have done good work. For me, I batted .500 on my two children with one reader and one gamer.
Toward this end, Amy Holley, our librarian, and Deborah Jessee worked hard last year to create a list of 100 books that all of our Lower School children should read before moving on to the middle school. I encourage you to ask about this list and to start your child along this path. In a separate article in this edition of Crossties, we outline the simple steps and literary selections we recommend, and the recognition that can accompany it. A few of our students are well underway toward completing their lists, and it is not too late for you and your children to start this journey together.
For those of you who are wondering, books three and four were Dead Wake, by Eric Larson, and just so you don’t think I am a total geek, The Whistler, by John Grisham. Good luck!