The following is from Head Librarian and Diversity Committee Chair Sam Harris.
This spring, at the suggestion of the Charles Wright Diversity Committee, the senior leadership team agreed there is inherent value in a community reading opportunity over the coming academic year. Two books were chosen with the goal of expanding knowledge and skills in areas that directly impact Charles Wright’s commitment to care for students and their experience of the CWA learning community. Beginning this fall, a series of book discussion events will be planned for the entire school community.
Parents and guardians are invited to join the Charles Wright faculty and staff in reading and discussing two books during the 2017-2018 academic year, Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family, by Amy Ellis Nutt, and Learn Better: Mastering the Skills for Success in Life, Business, and School, or, How to Become an Expert in Just About Anything, by Ulrich Boser.
To make the reading a bit more manageable, we’ll discuss Becoming Nicole during the fall and early winter, and we’ll move on to Learn Better beginning in January. We encourage you to join us in reading one, or both, books this summer and fall.
Information about each book is below. Please keep an eye out for updates regarding opportunities to meet and discuss these books. We look forward to reading with you!
“The inspiring true story of a transgender girl, her identical twin brother, and an ordinary American family’s extraordinary journey to understand, nurture, and celebrate the uniqueness in us all, from the Pulitzer Prize–winning science reporter for the Washington Post.
When Wayne and Kelly Maines adopted identical twin boys, they thought their lives were complete. But it wasn’t long before they noticed a marked difference between Jonas and his brother, Wyatt. Jonas preferred sports and trucks and many of the things little boys were “supposed” to like; but Wyatt liked princess dolls and dress-up and playing Little Mermaid. By the time the twins were toddlers, confusion over Wyatt’s insistence that he was female began to tear the family apart. In the years that followed, the Maineses came to question their long-held views on gender and identity, to accept and embrace Wyatt’s transition to Nicole, and to undergo an emotionally wrenching transformation of their own that would change all their lives forever.
Becoming Nicole chronicles a journey that could have destroyed a family but instead brought it closer together. It’s the story of a mother whose instincts told her that her child needed love and acceptance, not ostracism and disapproval; of a Republican, Air Force veteran father who overcame his deepest fears to become a vocal advocate for trans rights; of a loving brother who bravely stuck up for his twin sister; and of a town forced to confront its prejudices, a school compelled to rewrite its rules, and a courageous community of transgender activists determined to make their voices heard. Ultimately, Becoming Nicole is the story of an extraordinary girl who fought for the right to be herself.
Granted wide-ranging access to personal diaries, home videos, clinical journals, legal documents, medical records, and the Maineses themselves, Amy Ellis Nutt spent almost four years reporting this immersive account of an American family confronting an issue that is at the center of today’s cultural debate. Becoming Nicole will resonate with anyone who’s ever raised a child, felt at odds with society’s conventions and norms, or had to embrace life when it plays out unexpectedly. It’s a story of standing up for your beliefs and yourself—and it will inspire all of us to do the same.” – from Penguin Random House Books
“Boser’s (The Leap: The Science of Trust and Why It Matters) thought-provoking work unpacks the complex subject of how we learn, and offers attractive ideas, tips, and approaches to inspire the reader to ‘learn better.’ His work has the engaging style of a TED Talk, littered with personal anecdotes about his own struggles and successes with learning, crammed with descriptions of exciting research in the area, and punctuated with interactive ‘pop quizzes.’ In an information-rich and technologically supercharged society, Boser describes the diminishing value of prior knowledge and correspondingly increasing importance of acquiring new expertise. Through a review of research, he extrapolates a systematic learning approach: value, target, develop, extend, relate, rethink. He also profiles individual learners. One, a high school student, adds up large numbers in her head by flicking her fingers in the air to do the calculations on a visualized abacus. Another, a surgeon, drastically reduces his team’s error rate by documenting every error made by himself and staff during surgery—a demonstration that feedback develops expertise. This work infuses a sense of fresh excitement and accessibility into a topic sometimes considered stodgy or overly cerebral. Readers will be left craving something new to learn.” (May) – from Publisher’s Weekly