*this post is originally from my blog, Head in The Game on 6/11/2018.
What do you think of when you hear the words "Summer Reading"?
For most people, those two words may bring up lots of negative, unwanted memories, of summers spent avoiding books that they didn’t connect with, procrastinating on paper writing, or time spent reading books they didn’t want to when they could have been doing something they found more enjoyable.
This year, the school I work at is doing something different with our student summer reading assignments. We are letting the students pick their own book to read. We are hopeful this will not only change their view on summer reading, but also give us insight to who they are are people, a glimpse into their passions and personalities.
Helping students find books to read over the summer has been an enjoyable way to connect with them the last few weeks of school. I started to curate lists of titles that appeared to excite different students so I was prepared when the next walked in. Now that school is out, I wanted to create a list of books for you - parents, coaches, athletic trainers, athletes- in hopes of inspiring and connecting with you.
Each of these books impacted me in some way. Each served a different purpose in my life.
What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen
Author - Kate Fagan
If I had to pick one book from this list that I believe everyone should read, it would be this one.
I started listening to this book (audible is great you guys - get your first two books free!) on my commute to internship, and had to continue it on my walks with Roscoe because it resonated with me so much and I couldn’t wait to learn more. Madison was a runner at UPenn and died by suicide. By all accounts, she had it all, everything she had ever wanted, except for happiness. This book provides insight in to her life and the events leading up to her death, and how social media impacted Maddy and those close to her. It challenges the way we view mental health in athletics, and in society as a whole. I plan to use this book with future clients to let them know they are not alone.
Synopsis: If you scrolled through the Instagram feed of 19-year-old Maddy Holleran, you would see a perfect life: a freshman at an Ivy League school, recruited for the track team, who was also beautiful, popular, and fiercely intelligent. This was a girl who succeeded at everything she tried, and who was only getting started. (read more)
Unselfie: Why Empathic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World
Author- Michele Borba
This book was suggested to me last summer by a highly respected colleague and I am so thankful. The author argues that empathy is the most important skill we can teach children in today’s world. Teaching empathy though, is no easy feat. It is something I try and instill in each student who sits in my Freshman Seminar classroom, but I am constantly at war with the world outside my four walls, a world that can be so terrifying, mean and the opposite of empathetic. Dr. Borba provides nine basic strategies that help children “navigate the emotional minefields and ethical challenges” they experience every day. This book focuses not only on the importance of the family system and dynamic inside the home, but also the influence schools can have on children. It is a must read for all those who play a role in developing children and adolescents, or who need a little help with empathy themselves.
Synopsis: Hailed as “an absolute must-read” (Jean Twenge) and a book that “will change your kids’ lives” (Jack Canfield), UnSelfie by Dr. Michele Borba explains what parents and educators MUST do to combat the growing empathy crisis among children today—including a 9-step empathy-building program with tips to guide kids from birth through college, and beyond. Teens today are forty percent less empathetic than they were thirty years ago. Why is a lack of empathy—which goes hand-in-hand with the self-absorption epidemic Dr. Michele Borba calls the Selfie Syndrome—so dangerous? (read more)
The Gift of Failure: How The Best Parents Learn To Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed
Author - Jess Lahey
The Gift of Failure was a faculty summer reading book a few years back and is one that I often refer back to. Lahey is an experienced middle school and high school teacher who has two teenagers of her own. In this book, she explains how letting children fail, and grow from the experience, is more important than helping them avoid failure. Lahey does a wonderful job of explaining to readers that even with the best intentions, doing things for children that they could do independently and helping them find success and avoid failure are cultivating a sense of dependence and blocking independence and competence.
Lahey does all this in such a human way. Instead of lecturing from a “better than thou” place, she puts herself right in the mix, as a parent and someone who has been guilty of these things often. I found this book valuable, even as someone who does not have their own children, because I, as a teacher/athletic trainer, often have the tendency to “rescue” my students thinking I am doing the right thing.
Synopsis: In the tradition of Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed and Wendy Mogel’s The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, this groundbreaking manifesto focuses on the critical school years when parents must learn to allow their children to experience the disappointment and frustration that occur from life’s inevitable problems so that they can grow up to be successful, resilient, and self-reliant adults. Modern parenting is defined by an unprecedented level of overprotectiveness: parents who rush to school at the whim of a phone call to deliver forgotten assignments, who challenge teachers on report card disappointments, mastermind children’s friendships, and interfere on the playing field. (read more)
So you want to talk about race
Author - Ijeoma Oluo
I almost left this off the list. I wasn’t sure if it “fit” with parent’s, coaches, and athletes. But, if I think back on one book that has impacted me the most, this is it. In the world of Colin Kaepernick, and all of the conversations about sports and politics, I started to think it would be negligent to leave it off. This book provides insight in to hard to understand, unless you live it, topics surrounding race and goes deeper, talking about intersectionality, school to prison pipeline and cultural appropriation. Ijeoma Oluo starts each chapter with a challenging, sometimes uncomfortable question, such as, "Why do you think black people are poor? Do you think it's for the same reasons that white people are?" Each question is followed by valuable information that equips the reader to answer, or at least feel comfortable talking about, the question. So You Want To Talk About Race will give you, as parents, coaches, teachers, counselors and influential people, the resources and ability to have challenging, but rewarding and necessary conversations with your children.
Synopsis: In So You Want to Talk About Race, Editor at Large of The Establishment Ijeoma Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the "N" word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities (read more)
The Energy Bus
Author - Jon Gorden
The Energy Bus is different than the other books on this list because it is written as a story, a fable of sorts. George, the main character, is having a hard time at home and work. After his car breaks down, he is forced to ride the bus to work and ends up with Joy as his bus driver. Joy helps her riders recognize and understand principles of success that affect every aspect of their lives. This book is a quick read that provides 10 easy to implement, and effective strategies. I appreciated this book because it was written in a manner that allowed me to easily teach these strategies in an understandable way to my students and clients.
Synopsis: The Energy Bus, an international best seller by Jon Gordon, takes readers on an enlightening and inspiring ride that reveals 10 secrets for approaching life and work with the kind of positive, forward thinking that leads to true accomplishment - at work and at home. (read more)
*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. I may receive a small commission on purchases. This does not change the cost of the purchase, and occurs at no additional cost to you. I would never recommend products or books that I didn't truly believe in.*
Former Athletic Trainer, current Mental Health Professional. Boston sports lover.