Books briefly noted: For families

Three recent books for families to consider.

The Tree of Hope: The Miraculous Rescue of Puerto Rico’s Beloved Banyan

Anna Orenstein-Cardona; illustrated by Juan Manuel Moreno
Beaming Books, 40 pages | August 23, 2022

An old banyan tree evokes the resiliency and perseverance of a people in the wake of a horrible storm. My eight-year-old noticed the author’s use of similes and metaphors — he particularly liked how the tree is changed on the outside by the hurricane but remains the same at heart. My five-year-old enjoyed how the people found shade and then hope through the tree. And the baby of our family, at two years old, loved the brightly colored pictures and especially gravitated toward the people of Puerto Rico shown in every shade of brown. Children understand the fear and devastation that storms like a hurricane can bring. This true story allows us to hold onto hope that life, when given a way, will indeed persevere.

Reviewed by Rev. Joann Haejong Lee of Calvary Presbyterian Church of San Francisco, California, with Austin (8), Rose (5) and Josephine (2).

Pause, Breathe, Be: A Kid’s 30-Day Guide to Peace and Presence

Megan Borgert-Spaniol and Lauren Kukla; illustrated by Aruna Rangarajan
Beaming Books, 144 pages | October 04, 2022

Parents who can’t find a minute for themselves, let alone create time to meditate, might find that mindfulness activities geared toward children are exactly what the whole family needs. Each simple practice in this book encourages kids to reconnect with themselves, experience the “here and now” and then reflect on their relationships. This colorful volume is aimed at elementary-age children, but I’m adapting many of its activities for my middle schooler and finding that the brief moments of respite are just what he – and I – need.

Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be

Becky Kennedy
Harper Wave, 304 pages | September 13, 2022

I’ve never been comfortable with Christian parenting books that focus on obedience. So when “Dr. Becky” said that, despite any talk of original sin, all children are “good inside” and are simply trying to connect with others, I became curious. Her practical approach guides parents to understand the fear and shame that drive children’s bad behavior so parents can affirm their emotions and connect with them on a deeper level (all while calmly redirecting their behavior). She offers enough scripts and examples from her clinical psychology practice to support parents raising children of any age.