Lisa Harries’ Best Reads of 2014

harriesMy name is Lisa Harries.  I have lived in Evanston all my life.  I moved into the city for a bit during my 20s, but returned when my daughter became school-aged. I have been a teacher for 19 wonderful years and currently teach 2nd graders at Dewey Elementary School. I love to sleep, shop, read, eat, talk with friends, do jigsaw puzzles, run, and bowl. I try to find something to smile about everyday, usually my teenage daughter and my students help me accomplish that goal. I hope that you find some wonderful books to enjoy during this next year. Happy reading!

1) The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau (2000)

I re-read this book every year to my students because I love it so much. It is about generosity and community. It teachers students how good it feels to give to others and how giving just a little bit of yourself to someone else can help foster a sense of community. It also has BEAUTIFUL illustrations that students enjoy.

2) Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (2010)

I read this book when it first came out. I was addicted to the series. I re-read it this year so that I could remind myself of what happened. I wanted to be prepared for the movie version. Of the books in the trilogy, this was my least favorite as it centered around the war and destruction of District 13. I suppose it had to, but what was lost was some of the compassion and goodness prevalent in the first 2 stories. I tend to be a fairytale ending kind of gal, and it was hard to feel that “happy ending” with a story so steeped in war and death. However, I do believe that Suzanne Collins knows how to tell a beautifully complex story and would recommend this series to anyone who enjoys dystopian fiction or adventure stories. Her series The Underland Chronicles is also very interesting.

Book Cover - The One and Only Ivan3) The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (2012)

I loved this story! Katherine Applegate crafted a beautiful plot about friendship, sacrifice, and hope using delightful characters. She made me care about these characters right from the opening page.

4) How to Talk so Kids Can Learn at Home and in School by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish (1995)

This is a must read for anyone who connects with children on a regular basis. It promotes a healthy way of talking to kids so that they feel listened to and respected, even when their behavior might not be the most respectful. The authors show how appropriate communication strategies can help build kids self-esteem, while developing their ability to be self-directed and self-disciplined. Its conversational style and cartoon-like examples make it easy to read and digest.

5) The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering our Children by Shefali Tsabary, PhD (2010)

This is not a book that I have read in one sitting. I started it this summer, and I find myself just reading a bit at a time. It is a book that encourages adults to reflect on their personal histories as a context for the ways in which they relate to their children. It advocates for parents to grow and learn alongside their child.

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