It has been more than a month since I finished reading Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman (published 1998). By waiting to write my thoughts, I may not have as many specific examples and quotes to share with my readers. However, by letting the book percolate in my mind as I went about my life, I can even better declare that Gottman’s slim volume is a helpful and essential reminder of the role of parents in the lives of young children.
While parents and teachers often devote lots of time to teaching academics and well rounded activities (from music to athletics), how often have parents considered the ways they are helping their children develop emotional intelligence? In a world were people are increasingly pulled in a variety of directions, the ability to regulate emotions and control one self in a complicated world is essential. Gottman’s book helps me see my opportunities for teaching my kids. It also gives me realistic ways to implement the teaching of emotional strength. (more…)
The image on the cover is Carson McCullers.
At my classics book club last night, one of the women had not had a chance to read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (published 1940), but she came to hear the discussion about it nonetheless. She was not familiar with the book, and as we discussed it, she commented on how strange it all sounded.
“It sounds like it’s about a bunch of misfits that no one listens to,” she said.
We all concurred. And yet, such a summary does not do justice to the complexities that 23-year-old Carson McCullers captured in her debut novel, a small snapshot of life in a small Southern town in the Great Depression era.
“Snapshot” is the wrong word, however. McCullers herself was a musician (passing up her acceptance to Julliard for lack of money) and she dubbed her novel a “fugue.”
“Like a voice in a fugue, each one of the main characters is an entity in himself – but his personality takes on a new richness when contrasted and woven in with the other characters in the book.” (Quoted on the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt study guide)
Such is the set up of the book: four lonely people in a small town turn to the only man who seems to care about them, the deaf and mute John Singer. Ironically, this deaf-mute is the only one who “listens” to their concerns and stories. He can read lips, and he is able to speak (he was trained as a child) yet simply chooses not to respond in the conversations he has with the “lonely hunters” who visit him. He responds simply with a smile and a nod. Each chapter focuses on one of the “lonely hunters,” alternating among all of them, including the deaf-mute, who, despite his appearance as a confessor and friend for the others, is in actually the loneliest of them all.
When my son and this blog were newborns, I purchased a copy of Seth Lerer’s Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History and began reading some of the classic children’s books that I loved as a child and/or that have been influential in creating children’s literature as we know it. My project through the classics in that book got rather derailed as my baby became a toddler.
Now he’s a preschooler and I’m expecting another baby. I still don’t have the time (or the motivation, to be honest) to follow a progressive approach to reading through classic stories of the past, but I certainly enjoy reading literary criticism of literature and the history of the stories that are the foundation for children’s literature today.
Enchanted Hunters, Maria Tatar’s volume on “The Power of Stories in Childhood,” is enjoyable and informative for the reader of children’s literature, for the parent who reads to a child, and for the reader who enjoys fairy tales. She discusses children’s literature from a few different approaches, including literary criticism, history, and personal opinions.
“The Horla” is the term for the invisible ghost-like creature that haunts the unnamed narrator in Guy de Maupassant’s short story of the same name (written 1887). Maupassant’s story is a journal of this man’s decent into madness. Maupassant captures panic in a real way, and the ending is simply wonderful. When I first read it, I called it “wonderfully weird” and it’s held up to that description. (more…)
As a mother raising a child in a world of video games and television, electronic gadgets and noise makers, I have often wondered how to encourage my son’s imagination. This seems to be a challenge even now when he’s a toddler, and it may be even more so as he grows. Society’s emphasis on after-school activities, sports, and progress in general seems to put undue pressure on children. In the hopes of remembering to slow down, I recently read two books that put a parent’s role in perspective: Awakening Children’s Minds by Laura Berk and Seeing Past Z by Beth Kephart.