Friday, November 17, 2017

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter (Kate Clifford Larson)


I'll admit I'm a bit of a fan girl when it comes to royal families - and the Kennedy's are one of those famous families that fascinate me. This story made me sad though. Rosemary's parents inability to accept her was disturbing. They continually looked for ways to "fix" the problem rather than accept who she was. It's difficult to be imperfect when you're so worried about what everyone around you thinks. Although, I hope the family would argue that they weren't worried about what others were thinking and rather, more interested in helping her to be all she could be. The author's opinion definitely seemed to be that it was the former.

It was interesting to read the ideas they had about special needs education back then. Moving her from school to school was kind of sad. It made me want to make sure I'm more inclusive as a teacher. Joe Kennedy's take on Hitler and the war with Hitler and the Nazi's was also fascinating to follow. Clearly, he got it wrong. We sure have gone down some crazy roads when it comes to health and science.
 The story of her lobotomy was sad. The author called it the beginning of the Kennedy tragedies. I'd agree.  I had to wonder if keeping Rosemary hidden was the beginning of bad karma for the family. It was disturbing to hear about how her mother, Rose, didn't admit to knowing anything about the surgery and was complicit in keeping her hidden away for years after. The author says that perhaps she is the Kennedy that made the biggest difference. She is the reason the special Olympics were started, which was interesting considering of all the Kennedys, she was least interested in sports. It was something they made her do for her own good.

Goodreads says:

They were the most prominent American family of the twentieth century. The daughter they secreted away made all the difference.

Joe and Rose Kennedy’s strikingly beautiful daughter Rosemary attended exclusive schools, was presented as a debutante to the Queen of England, and traveled the world with her high-spirited sisters. And yet, Rosemary was intellectually disabled — a secret fiercely guarded by her powerful and glamorous family.  Major new sources — Rose Kennedy’s diaries and correspondence, school and doctors' letters, and exclusive family interviews — bring Rosemary alive as a girl adored but left far behind by her competitive siblings. Kate Larson reveals both the sensitive care Rose and Joe gave to Rosemary and then — as the family’s standing reached an apex — the often desperate and duplicitous arrangements the Kennedys made to keep her away from home as she became increasingly intractable in her early twenties. Finally, Larson illuminates Joe’s decision to have Rosemary lobotomized at age twenty-three, and the family's complicity in keeping the secret.  
Rosemary delivers a profoundly moving coda: JFK visited Rosemary for the first time while campaigning in the Midwest; she had been living isolated in a Wisconsin institution for nearly twenty years. Only then did the siblings understand what had happened to Rosemary and bring her home for loving family visits. It was a reckoning that inspired them to direct attention to the plight of the disabled, transforming the lives of millions.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Sleep Revolution (Arianna Huffington)


I made a commitment to myself this year that I would get enough sleep. Ever since I got a fitbit I'm obsessed with making sure I get enough sleep. After reading this book, I'm more committed. Sleep cures everything!

Goodreads says:

We are in the midst of a sleep deprivation crisis, writes Arianna Huffington, the co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post. And this has profound consequences – on our health, our job performance, our relationships and our happiness.

What is needed, she boldly asserts, is nothing short of a sleep revolution. Only by renewing our relationship with sleep can we take back control of our lives. In her bestseller Thrive, Arianna wrote about our need to redefine success through well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving. Her discussion of the importance of sleep as a gateway to this more fulfilling way of living struck such a powerful chord that she realized the mystery and transformative power of sleep called for a fuller investigation.

The result is a sweeping, scientifically rigorous, and deeply personal exploration of sleep from all angles, from the history of sleep, to the role of dreams in our lives, to the consequences of sleep deprivation, and the new golden age of sleep science that is revealing the vital role sleep plays in our every waking moment and every aspect of our health – from weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease to cancer and Alzheimer’s.

In The Sleep Revolution, Arianna shows how our cultural dismissal of sleep as time wasted compromises our health and our decision-making and undermines our work lives, our personal lives -- and even our sex lives. She explores all the latest science on what exactly is going on while we sleep and dream. She takes on the dangerous sleeping pill industry, and all the ways our addiction to technology disrupts our sleep. She also offers a range of recommendations and tips from leading scientists on how we can get better and more restorative sleep, and harness its incredible power.

In today's fast-paced, always-connected, perpetually-harried and sleep-deprived world, our need for a good night’s sleep is more important – and elusive -- than ever. The Sleep Revolution both sounds the alarm on our worldwide sleep crisis and provides a detailed road map to the great sleep awakening that can help transform our lives, our communities, and our world.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

What I Know For Sure (Oprah Winfrey)


This book made me think I should write down what I know for sure.

I loved reading this. She is big on take responsibility for your life, make your own happiness and follow your heart.

Goodreads says:
As a creative force, student of the human heart and soul, and champion of living the life you want, Oprah Winfrey stands alone. Over the years, she has made history with a legendary talk show - the highest-rated program of its kind, launched her own television network, become the nation's only African-American billionaire, and been awarded both an honorary degree by Harvard University and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. From all her experiences, she has gleaned life lessons—which, for fourteen years, she's shared in O, The Oprah Magazine's widely popular "What I Know For Sure" column, a monthly source of inspiration and revelation.

Now, for the first time, these thoughtful gems have been revised, updated, and collected in What I Know For Sure, a beautiful cloth bound book with a ribbon marker, packed with insight and revelation from Oprah Winfrey. Organized by theme—joy, resilience, connection, gratitude, possibility, awe, clarity, and power—these essays offer a rare, powerful and intimate glimpse into the heart and mind of one of the world's most extraordinary women—while providing readers a guide to becoming their best selves. Candid, moving, exhilarating, uplifting, and frequently humorous, the words Oprah shares in What I Know For Sure shimmer with the sort of truth that readers will turn to again and again.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Why Libraries Matter - A Story Long Overdue (Ellen Fenman)


I think I loved this more than my class. Libraries do matter!

Goodreads says:

Becca can't wait to go to the library to start her summer reading, but her mom is working. Then her grandpa comes and wants a John Wayne DVD. Then her uncle comes and has lost his job and needs to find out employment info for the area, and the neighbor stops by, and another…and Becca is able to take them all to the library to find what each one needs.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

How To Make Friends With a Ghost (Rebecca Green)


Cute story! It was especially great to read it on Halloween day. It sparked a good debate about whether it is fiction or non-fiction. It all depends on whether or not you believe in ghosts! We decided as long as you can justify what genre you give it, you're right.

Goodreads says:

What do you do when you meet a ghost? One: Provide the ghost with some of its favorite snacks, like mud tarts and earwax truffles. Two: Tell your ghost bedtime stories (ghosts love to be read to). Three: Make sure no one mistakes your ghost for whipped cream or a marshmallow when you aren't looking! If you follow these few simple steps and the rest of the essential tips in How to Make Friends with a Ghost, you'll see how a ghost friend will lovingly grow up and grow old with you. 

A whimsical story about ghost care, Rebecca Green's debut picture book is a perfect combination of offbeat humor, quirky and sweet illustrations, and the timeless theme of friendship.

My Stroke of Insight (Dr Jill Bolte Taylor)


I loved the author's positivity about strokes. She is a brain scientist who had a stroke. Her experience about what it was like to have a stroke and to recover is inspiring. Neuroplasticity rocks!

I also love how she connects Eastern medicine and Western medicine in the final chapters.

Goodreads says:

Jill Taylor was a 37-year-old Harvard-trained brain scientist when a blood vessel exploded in her brain. Through the eyes of a curious scientist, she watched her mind deteriorate whereby she could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her life. Because of her understanding of the brain, her respect for the cells in her body, and an amazing mother, Jill completely recovered. In My Stroke of Insight, she shares her recommendations for recovery and the insight she gained into the unique functions of the two halves of her brain. When she lost the skills of her left brain, her consciousness shifted away from normal reality where she felt "at one with the universe." Taylor helps others not only rebuild their brains from trauma, but helps those of us with normal brains better understand how we can consciously influence the neural circuitry underlying what we think, how we feel and how we react to life's circumstances.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Eli (Bill Peet)


This is a really fun one to read. It's fun to make a screechy vulture voice and a cranky lion voice. We really had a good laugh while reading it. Connects well with our friendship unit. Good vocabulary discussions too. I feel like we should do an author study some time on Bill Peet. We've read a number of his books this year and today when I showed this one my students commented that this is probably going to be a good one since it's by Bill Peet.

Goodreads says:

A proud but decrepit lion learns a lesson about friendship from the vultures he despises.