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Reading Resolutions for Winter Break

December 14th, 2017

{photo by Drew Coffman}

Before we get to today's blog post, we want to let you know about 2 FREE Jim Weiss holiday MP3 downloads available right now on The Well Trained Mind website: The Nativity Story and Chanukah: The Festival of Lights. We don't know how long these will be free, so download them today if you want them! 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… for reading! A sublime three-week break is ahead, and we asked a few SLOCA parents to share the books that are on their “Reading Resolutions” list for this holiday season. This is a series we do from time to time, to share what SLOCA parents are currently reading or hoping to read in the days and weeks ahead. There’s always an interesting variety and it’s fun to get to know each other a little through our love of reading.

So here’s the latest batch. We’ve listed each parent’s name, the children they have at SLOCA, and their book list. We hope you will be inspired to choose a book or two of your own and find time to read over the break:

Valerie Neuschwander

Track A mom of Scott (Primary) and Rachel (Kindergarten)

Reading Now:

  • Skipping Christmas by John Grisham – I take turns reading certain books in December. How can you not love the modern day Scrooge, Luther, in Skipping Christmas?
  • Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle – This a must-read for anyone that owns a cell phone or has a family member with one. 
  • Rainbow Valley (7th book in the Anne of Green Gables series) by L.M. Montgomery – I am an Anne fan through and through. While I've read the first 3 books several times, I've never read the entire series until now. These later books are especially poignant now as Anne is experiencing marriage and motherhood. 
  • Knights in Training by Heather Haupt – I'm halfway through this book that discusses chivalry and knighthood and it's application to raising sons. 

Up Next: 

  • No Greater Love by Mother Teresa
  • How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
  • Delicious! by Ruth Reichl


Erin Augustine

Track B mom of Brennan (Intermediate) and Blake (Primary)

  • Origin by Dan Brown – Some history and culture wrapped up into a satisfying escapist read perfect for the break. 
  • Killing England by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard –Not a fan of the author personally and I wish this book was out last year, but I have loved every other book I’ve read in the Killing series and have been looking forward to this one. 
  • The Iliad by Homer – I’ve never read it and doubt I’ll finish it over the break, but I’m going to start. 
  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder – The kids and I just finished the first book in the Laura Years series, and are excited to start this next one.


Amaya Giauque

Track A mom of William (LMS) and Michael (Primary)

I just finished (and found enjoyable and/or enlightening): 

  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
  • A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
  • The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve 

I’m currently reading: 

  • On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder
  • Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck (I am re-reading this as I feel I need to put emphasis on some of these lessons right now)

My queue is long… but here are a few upcoming books that I’m looking forward to reading:

  • The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding
  • The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality by Dalai Lama XIV
  • Writing my Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison by Shanka Senghor
  • The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert


Melissa Godsey

Track B mom of Elliot (Primary)

  • Grant by Ron Chernow – I’m about halfway though this book, which I’ve been alternately reading, and listening to via Audible (only 24 hours remaining! Ha!). Chernow's account of Grant has brought me to tears several times, and I’m surprised by the sense of kinship I feel for him, despite our inhabiting vastly different worlds. I’m going to try not to binge, but rather savor this one throughout the break.
  • The Talks: A Parent's Guide to Critical Conversations about Sex, Dating, and Other Unmentionables by Barrett and Jennifer Johnson – Having grown up without much guidance or preparedness in this regard, and not satisfied with the way relationships are presented in popular culture, I'm eager to equip myself as best as I can before my husband and I begin having these conversations with our oldest. I heard an interview with the authors on a podcast recently, and immediately added this to my Amazon cart.
  • Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller – I’m a communication person by trade, and I’m fascinated with Don’s approach to branding and communication in general, as he approaches both through the lens of story, and human psychology. I look forward to applying this learning to my own business and volunteer work.
  • Living Things by Anne Porter – This is a collection of Porter’s poetry. I’ve never had a poem strike me as powerfully as Anne Porter’s poem titled Music. I heard it while driving, a long time ago on The Writer’s Almanac, and was so moved that I literally had to pull the car over while I wept on the side of the road for several minutes. As soon as I got home, I found a used copy on Amazon for something like $5. I keep this book on my nightstand, and I have this habit of skipping straight to Music, reading it, and then feeling so tender afterwards that I can’t bring myself to read any of the other poems. So my end-of-the-year resolution is to start from the beginning and read all the others, too. (I’ll probably skip Music for a while.)


Cindy Hilton

High School mom of Caedin (Freshman)

  • Bali and Lombok Travel Guide by Lonely Planet – An old friend and SLOCA mom is enjoying an adventure while living with her daughter in Bali this year and has me dreaming of traveling there!
  • The Book of Salt by Monique Truong – I'm embarrassed to admit to how long I have been working on this interesting read about Paris in the 1930's, Gloria Stein, and scrumptious descriptions of food, all through the eyes of a Vietnamese cook. I enjoy it, but rarely pick up fiction when I read.
  • More Women Travel – A Fred & Betty's find, it's what I pick up at 3am when I can't stop tossing and turning.  Mindless, enjoyable and I'm blessed that reading in the middle of the night does the trick of quickly putting me back to sleep!
  • Transforming Student Travel by Faye Brenner – Traveling with students is my favorite project and this book sits on my nightstand shelf for reading when I feel like being productive rather than checking out.
  • A Householder's Guide to the Universe by Harriet Fasenfest – My favorite to read right now, this book is full of ideas for the house and garden, broken down by month.
  • Seeing Stars: Symbol Imagery for Phonological and Orthographic Processing in Reading and Spelling by Nanci Bell – Unfortunately, I'm spending most of my reading time studying about dyslexia right now. It isn't fun, but it's the most important project. Seeing Stars by Nancy Bell has completely transformed how I teach reading. It's an excellent resource!


Lorrie Hamann

Track B mom of Peyton (Intermediate) and Jaxon (Kindergarten)

  • The Way of Transition by William Bridges – I have a couple of books that are on the “continuous read” stack. They have highlighted pages, bookmarks and some chapters I have not even read yet! This is one of those books.
  • Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings by Dr. Laura Markham – This is a part 2 (for me) by this author. I loved her first book and I feel like it’s time to work on those sibling relationships. However, see the next title:
  • Ignore It! by Catherine Pearlman – This book came highly recommended. I feel this and the previous book are going to contradict each other. I’m looking forward to the challenge!
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  • This Was Never About Basketball by Craig Leener – This is a book that is signed by the author and was gifted to my son. I look forward to reading it to the kids over winter break.
  • Birds & Blooms Color By Number Coloring Book – Maybe the kids and I will have a coloring contest...

Thanks for sharing, everyone, and happy reading!

So what are you hoping to read over the break? Leave your own “Reading Resolutions” book picks for the holiday break in the comments below, and share some great suggestions with our community!


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