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Advice from the Book Doctor
August 12, 2014 12:59 PM   Subscribe

Julia Eccleshare knows what kids should read in order to experience an antidote to our money-fuelled world, to learn to question authority, have smart female role models, learn about feminism, get to know South Asian characters and families with same-sex parents. Which books help to feel good about wearing glasses, when one feels 'weird' or different, which make the dark less scary or would lure a 13-year-old boy away from his Xbox. She is the book doctor.

Other examples include, among many:
Can books help my child be less scared of school?
Are school dinners always yucky in children's books?
What are the best books for gamers?
What are the best books for younger children which include same-sex relationships?
Which are the best teen books about same-sex relationships?
As a family we listen to a lot of audiobooks. Can you recommend some for all of us?
What are the best audio books for long car journeys?
posted by travelwithcats (11 comments total) 77 users marked this as a favorite

Related: Earlier this year we had a MeTa with Books for the non-misogynist young reader.
posted by travelwithcats at 1:02 PM on August 12 [6 favorites]

I...just went and bought two books from the "female role models" link.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:26 PM on August 12

Under the "My 7-year-old kid was called weird" section she mentions Good Night Mr. Tom, but fair warning; that is not a good story to read to a 7-year-old. Nightmarish bits about an abused kid and Bad Things happen (though the ending is happy). I would save that for a young adult or at least middle-school ager.
posted by emjaybee at 1:48 PM on August 12

Oh man, I read Good night Mr. Tom to bits. It satisfied some deep need in me and I didn't find it nightmarish (scary, yes, but not more so than real life). I might have been older, though...nine, maybe?
posted by Omnomnom at 1:52 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]

I dunno, the idea is good but which kid is going to slog through all these tomes just to live up to their parents' progressive ideals?

When I was in third grade I began reading the Lesser Key of Solomon and nothing - absolutely nothing - did more for my development and self confidence than being able to conjure daemons from hell and watching the horrified faces of my enemies as the daemons violated their sanity and intestines. I know for a fact that Solomon also made me a more sensitive and accepting kid because hanging out with these super smart and cool daemons who had the unfortunate luck of looking like infested goat anuses made me understand that you can find beauty and kindness in the most surprising of places, like a Chamber of Joy where some nice fellas taught me how you can turn people into your most fervent acolytes. They even treated me to McDonald's afterwards. Best field trip ever.

What's that? Your kid reads Harry Potter to learn that wearing glasses is cool? Third grade me would be learning that wearing the skins of your tormentors is way cooler.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:26 PM on August 12 [4 favorites]

I think a lot of women would tell you that Alanna of Trebond had a big impact on their self-confidence in dealing with sexism as they grew up, to be honest. So it's not so much expecting your kids to share your ideals (though, like, kids do anyway) as much as it is giving them quality content and letting them form their own connections to the ideas.
posted by you're a kitty! at 5:07 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]

Also god I loved the suggestion in the feminism link to give those books to your sons too. So so so so so so so important.
posted by you're a kitty! at 5:08 PM on August 12

I think a lot of women would tell you that Alanna of Trebond had a big impact on their self-confidence in dealing with sexism as they grew up, to be honest.

My entirely scientific review of ladies at two all girl's/women schools suggests that this was true for probably 90% of alums, and also I need to go to the library to re-read all of those now.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:32 PM on August 12

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but one of my favourite things about meeting Tamora Pierce in a bookstore about ten years ago was seeing all the young people, of both genders, clutching her books. They were hugely influential on me, and I love that not only generations of girls are reading them, but generations of boys, too.
posted by Georgina at 7:17 PM on August 12

I feel, though, like maybe she hasn't actually read all the books she recommending. Case in point, from the "What are the best books for gamers?" link above.
Fighting a dragon is at the heart of JRR Tolkien's epic The Fellowship of the Ring trilogy, an obvious next choice for anyone who has enjoyed The Hobbit. Frodo's epic quest to get the Ring from the evil Sauron in a brilliantly imagined and vividly described world filled with extraordinary creatures is a blueprint for all subsequent fantasies.
This may seem pedantic, but this is not an accurate description of that happens in Lord of The Rings. Getting the plot backwards, and thinking Sauron is a dragon suggests that her recommendations might need to be taken as being received information, rather than first hand, more like a game of "telephone," than a first-hand suggestion.
posted by MythMaker at 3:43 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]

I feel, though, like maybe she hasn't actually read all the books she recommending.

Further evidence of this: her reference to "Katniss Evergreen from The Hunger Games." Nobody who'd read those books would screw that up. Still, I appreciate the round-up even if it's not a set of personal recommendations.
posted by The Minotaur at 11:53 AM on August 13

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