Fiction is a great empathy builder, because the process of entering into a different—albeit imaginary—world forces the reader to see things from another point of view.
This category also prods you to see things from another point of view, by picking up a book you might not have chosen otherwise. You get to experience the work yourself, of course, but you also get to step into the shoes of your loved one as you reflect on why they chose a particular title for you, and what they think about it themselves.
For this category, I let my husband and four kids pick my summer reading. This is what they came up with.
Series: a book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child or BFF
This is a summer reading pick for my 13-year-old, and he asked me to read it too. This American classic is about a group of kids from the wrong side of the tracks in Oklahoma, and I've heard it compared to West Side Story. Unbelievably, Hinton wrote this when she was just 16, and it was published when she was 18. You could also read this title for the category "a book that's been banned at some point." More info →
This title was chosen for me by Silas, age 6. All my kids have loved this book, but it's one of his current favorites (which basically means he's reading it over and over again). Mr. Popper is a mild-mannered house painter who spends all his spare time reading about Admiral Drake and his expeditions to the Antarctic, and dreams of being an explorer himself. Mr. Popper writes the Admiral a letter and the Admiral responds by sending him a special present—a penguin! This charmingly absurd Newbery Honor winner is about having the courage to be different and the conviction to follow your dreams. It's an easy, delightful read. I expect Silas and I will read it together (again!). More info →
My 11-year-old Sarah had a difficult time nailing down which of many potential titles (all from this list of terrific books for tweens) she wanted me to read this summer. She finally landed on this first installment in a current favorite series. This middle grade novel has a bit of Hogwarts magic to it: every Tuesday, Castle Glower rearranges itself, growing a new room or adding a new hallway. The royal family is accustomed to its eccentricities. When disaster strikes, Princess Celie and her siblings team up to save the day. This doesn't look like Sarah's usual picks, so I'm curious to see just what it is about this story that captured her. More info →
This one was chosen for me by Lucy, my 8-year-old. It was assigned summer reading for rising 4th graders and she gobbled it up—I think she had it finished by the third day of summer! This novel is about an 11-year-old girl named Poppy whose dreams of becoming a veterinarian one day are temporarily thwarted because her mom's allergic to fur. But when her parents decide to spend the summer in India, she goes to stay with a relative, and gets to assist in his veterinary practice all summer. But of course when her dream becomes reality, it doesn't look quite the way she imagined. More info →
I got this several months ago from Book of the Month, but my husband beat me to this one. Now he keeps encouraging me to take my turn, which is always a good sign. This is the fictional "memoir" of one of the first Africans to set foot in the United States, an African slave native to Morocco. My husband assures me the strong story, solid plotting, and beautiful writing will make this worth my while—and then we can talk about it. More info →
What are you reading for this category? What great books have YOU found because a loved one recommended (and/or begged) you to read them?