Archive for the ‘Recommended Books’ Category

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

We thoroughly enjoyed reading We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.  After reading the story we ate berries and honey.  Also, I made an edible bear for Arjun using crackers, olives, raisins and fruit loops.  Kabir made his own edible bear including grass (olives), river (blue fruit loops), mud (brown mushed bread), forest (olives), snowstorm (almonds) and cave (meatballs).

I printed out printables from Homeschool Creations.  We enjoyed playing the game based on this book.

Arjun did a good job sequencing the events.


The most memorable moment was to act out the entire book using props.

Then, we went back to:

We’re not going on a bear hunt!

Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

If you have never read Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina, I suggest you do.  It’s a very cute book for children.

At first, Arjun was reluctant to act as the peddler in the book.  So, I had to recruit Kabir.  His enthusiasm inspired Arjun and they together enjoyed acting out peddler and monkey from this book.

Both of them enjoyed playing the game “Monkey see, Monkey do”.  Also, we did a little math and art and craft projects to go along with this book.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Not many people are going to like this but I have to confess that I actually enjoyed reading Amy Chua’s book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.  I don’t agree with her 100% but I do agree with her on lots of points.  When I read her book, I was not judging her or analyzing her.  Also, I tried to see her point of view.  I appreciate her honesty.  It takes lots of courage to write such a book because you know you are going to be grilled for doing so.  I appreciate this book because it gives me an idea of different perspectives as far as parenting style is concerned. 

I agree with her that schoolwork must always come first.  But for me, winning a medal or getting the highest grade is not the most important goal.  I would love for my kids to win but I am absolutely fine with them losing too.  This is because I feel failure is as important as winning.  Always winning can make you very arrogant.  Failing will make you a bit humble, compassionate and it has lot of lessons.  I would prefer for my kids to learn how to deal with failure now rather than later in life.  Unlike Amy Chua, I love playdates and I want my kids to participate in different activities like plays.  My sister-in-law, Shikha, once said that it takes a village to grow up a child.  I couldn’t agree more with her.  I like my kids to be with their music teacher, art teacher, swim coach, my trusted friends, my relatives and learn from all of them.  Also, whenever I drop off my kid for a playdate, it is understood that the rules of the hosting family will override our rules.

However, I concur with Amy Chua as far as TV or computer games are concerned.  We have no TV in our living room.  TV is so restricted in our house that whenever we watch TV it’s a big deal.  We own no video games.  I and my kids have no iPad as yet.  Again, I concur with Amy Chua about the topic of kids’ choice.  I feel when kids are small they don’t necessarily know what’s good for them.  For example, Kabir wanted to learn guitar rather than piano.  We told him that he needs to first learn piano because that’s the basic of western music.  He can make a choice when he is 13.  So, piano was not his first choice and was forced upon him initially.  Now, he just absolutely loves it!  Arjun is never interested in anything for the first time.  Initially, I have to force him.  Over time, he loves it and begs for more.  There are so many things that I never wanted to do when I was little but now I wish my mother had forced me.  While I will pursue their interest with much more vigor but they do not have a choice to avoid activities or subjects that we feel is vital for them.  As kids get wiser, they are more able to make good choices and hence more freedom.  I feel my job is to be a parent even if my kids don’t appreciate me at the moment but eventually they will understand.  I am a parent and not a cheerleader.  I am not in contest of winning their approval or vote all the time.  At the same time, I do pick my battle.  If Arjun still wants to drink in a sippy cup, it’s not worth a fight.  I agree with Amy Chua that our kids are much stronger than we think.  I think our expectations from our kids needs to be always a little higher than their own expectations and it might need adjusting depending on circumstances.  Also, sometimes siblings are so different that a parent might need different parenting style with each one!

My parenting style is, I would say, hybrid – some of our family rules have Asian roots such as no sleepover other than with close cousins; and a part of my parenting style has American roots for example I do compliment my kids generously and I also do share their accomplishments on my blog (something I cannot imagine majority Asian parents to do and I don’t know if this is something I’ll regret down the road).

My parenting style is an evolving process.  Nothing is written in stone.  Every time, my husband and I try to discuss, assess and adjust.  I try to learn from each and every parent I meet.  I read this book during our surprise trip to Chicago and Kabir was in desperate need of a book.  So, I let him read this book.  He read about first 9 chapters of this book.  When I asked him what did he think of Ms. Amy, he said, “She is too strict but she is a good mother.”

So, I definitely recommend this book!

And the Mountains Echoed

Friday, June 27th, 2014

It took me almost a year to read, And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.  I’ve read the first two books by the author: The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, and I enjoyed both of them thoroughly.  I’ll give And the Mountains Echoed the worst rating amongst all three books.  However, I’m glad to have read this book too!  The author intricately and beautifully weaves the story of several characters and several perspectives together.  It’s nice to see how life and people change over time.  

I had read about less than a third of the book and I couldn’t enjoy it, so I had given up but the book review by Payal Bhuwania encouraged me to give it another try and I’m glad I did.  I’ll just paste the link of book review by Payal for you because she writes so beautifully.  Thank you, Payal!


The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

This weekend, I was engrossed in the book, The Smartest Kids is the World: and how they got that way by Amanda Ripley. This book compares education system of America, Finland, Poland and South Korea. I would not want to put my child through the education system of South Korea at all because so much pressure on a kid doesn’t feel right. However, Finland seems to have a good balance and its education system seems to be the envy of the world. However, I live in America and I feel there are pros and cons in the current system just like any other place in the world. We, teachers and parents, have to make the best of it for our kids under the given circumstance.

I am so glad to have come across this book just before Kabir starts 3rd grade. Anyone who cares about education, teacher or parent, must read this book. I learnt quite a few things.

Lesson 1: Rigor is important. Discipline and hard work are two important qualities that we need to instill in kids as early as possible and all throughout their childhood. I have seen the benefits of rigor. In Indian schools, we don’t lack rigor and that is why when I studied at University of North Alabama, it was literally a cakewalk. If we can create young adults who don’t shy from hard work and are disciplined to get things done in a timely fashion, we will surely create a productive and happy generation. Nothing can give more satisfaction than hard work. However, there should be a balance between hard work and play. There is a fine line and it’s very easy to cross this line and become either a workaholic or an idler.

Lesson 2: Nothing is more important than education! It was heart breaking to learn that during recession, there are jobs that can’t be filled because majority don’t have the required qualifications in US. The world has become smaller and kids need to compete with the rest of the world. So, they need to work hard and get smarter. We cannot compare our generation with the next generation. What was good enough for our times is not good enough for now! Even if you are all set to be an athlete or artist, the education is very important and it must not suffer at any cost.

Lesson 3: Everyone can be good in Math with practice. In School, I remember teachers telling us that the only way to get good in Math is by practice. However, I don’t think I registered it until I read this book. I had the notion that you either are good in it or not and there’s not much you can do about it. There is a fatal surrender with respect to Math in this notion. With introspection, I have to confess that I am wrong! When I practiced, I got it and loved it. The better I got in it the less I was scared of it. It’s only when I couldn’t get help to understand the concept or when I avoided it that I made my Math problems bigger than life.

Lesson 4: Lessons on failure during childhood is vital. It is counter productive to protect our children from failures during childhood. Failures during childhood don’t have as big a consequence as during adulthood. It is better to let them try, fail and learn from it. Also, they are stronger than we think. With love and care, failure is not going to lower their self-esteem but teach them to overcome it.

Also, this book has a good list of how to spot a good school.   I really enjoyed this book. I got it from the library but it’s so good that I am going to order a copy of this book. It’s worth having this book in my bookshelf at home!