We talked with the Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Educational Psychology in the Neag School of Education this spring. She was seeking summer reads that would “stretch her in new ways” but also relate to the field of study she’s so passionate about. Her preference is print: “There’s nothing better than a tabbed, dog-eared, hard copy book with writing in the margins.”
Illustration by Kyle Hilton
Letting Go: A Parents’ Guide to Understanding the College Years by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger
I picked up this book as our oldest child was heading off to college and really wish I had read it a year earlier, as it covers the full roller coaster — from the admissions process through the undergraduate years. There are useful tidbits of advice and many resources for parents to help navigate it all, but the most interesting pieces are the interviews sharing perspectives from students, parents, and college personnel. You finish the book understanding that there is no single path or right decision for anyone, and that it is truly normal to experience peaks, valleys, and twists. As a professor, reading the book left me with greater appreciation of the issues that students could be facing. As a parent, it helped me take a deep breath of acceptance in reflecting not only on our past year but what might be next.
A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
Actually, I am rereading this book, as I first read it when it was published in 2010. Given the feature film that came out last summer, I can’t resist picking it up again for summer reading. It is such a great story, even if you are not a devoted dog lover like me. The story is about a dog who is reborn again and again into new situations and experiences with different human interactions. In each life, the dog is trying to figure out the reason for its being — which I find very moving. It makes you pause and reflect on your own life and the lessons you are intended to be learning throughout different situations — both joyful and challenging — that you are having or have faced.
Blind Spot by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald
I have had this book for a while but have not had a chance to start it yet — it’s on the definite summer reading list. It is about implicit bias, which means our attitudes or stereotypes that can affect what we do in an unconscious way. We all have implicit bias, as it is part of the way our brain organizes information, but it also has been shown to lead to discriminatory behavior (with race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation) — even in school settings. So it is important to learn about it, recognize it, and adjust our behavior to avoid acting on our unconscious biases.