Books For Your Nightstand – Movement, Motivation, Parenting, Reading

Affiliate Links 150 2Ready for more phenomenal books for your reading list this summer? These books will inspire you, teach you, and make you think deeply.

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John J. Ratey and Eric Hagerman

In a word, YES! This book will renew your excitement about what physical education can be in schools and show the unbelievable significance of cardiovascular exercise to brain performance.

The authors look at a unique approach to P.E. in Naperville, Illinois where the teachers teach fitness not sports. Their theory (which I agree with) is that sports discourage kids who need exercise the most while fitness teaches kids healthy life lessons. Plus, less than 3 percent of adults, according to Lawler, stay in shape through team sports, so it’s much more important to help 100% of adults know how to keep healthy and fit. Add in giving kids a goal for heart rate monitor, blood pressure, body fat and so forth, motivates them to stay fit. Cool, huh?

Spark also shows the research connecting exercise and the brain saying “When we exercise, particularly if the exercise requires complex motor movement, we’re also exercising the areas of the brain involved in the full suite of cognitive functions.”

The rest of the book talks more about stress, anxiety, depression, ADHD, hormones, and aging and their relationship to exercise. It’s all very helpful research!

KaBoom! How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play by Darell Hammond

**Darell has generously offered two Imagination Soup readers a signed copy of KaBoom! See below for details.**

Darell Hammond, CEO and founder of non-profit KaBoom! shares his life story and passion in this book. From a childhood of poverty and dysfunction to a no-excuses adult life of learning and authenticity, Darell followed his passion to found KaBoom! KaBoom! builds playgrounds for children in low-income areas to combat the play-deficit harmfully affecting children mentally, physically, socially, and and intellectually.

With 2,000 playgrounds built, what I LOVE is that KaBoom! matches corporations with community volunteers and money with housing entities, homeless facilities, or domestic-abuse shelters that lack playgrounds. So, instead of coming in and telling people what to do, KaBoom! asks local people to become leaders and trains them. Plus, KaBoom asks children in the community to help with the design. Wow.

Hammond’s story is gripping, and powerful. He shares the highs and lows, and all the while continues to inspire with his actions. And, Hammond is donating 100% of his book profits back to Kaboom!

Drive: The Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

Okay, this is still on my nightstand, but I plan to read it next. Pink uses four decades of research to analyze human motivation and this book is changing the way educators and business leaders think about everything. I can’t wait to read this book — it’s been on my radar for awhile now. Here’s a Wall Street Journal interview with Pink and Pink’s TED talk on motivation.

Have you read it? Did it change your thinking about motivation? How so?

Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky

I first learned about Galinsky from her articles on Huffington Post. From those, I knew I decided to buy and read her book, Mind in the Making, where she covers seven essential skills for children.
1. Focus and Self Control
2. Perspective Taking
3. Communicating
4. Making Connections
5. Critical Thinking
6. Taking On Challenges
7. Self-Directed, Engaged Learning

It’s impossible to summarize this book except to say the main themes Galisnksy covers. She’s synthesized research, and shares it with us. Throughout the book she adds activity suggestions for parents. In one chapter on focus and self-control, Galinsky shares games that promote focus such as I Spy, Red Light / Green Light, and puzzles.

This book explodes with research and practical knowledge — I know you’ll appreciate that as much as I do.

Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

Now available in paperback, NurtureShock is another book that takes the lastest research on child development and synthesizes it in understandable ways. I recently chatted with Merryman about motivation and praise and I will give you the scoop on that conversation soon. :)

Besides talking about praise, NurtureShock explores

– the necessity of sleep and how most kids aren’t getting enough causing ADHD, obesity, and memory.
– why we don’t talk about race and skin color
– why kids lie
– kindergarten
– sibling fights
– teen rebellion
– self-control
– language development

Some big things stood out to me from NurtureShock.

One, was that the IQ tests given to judge kindergardeners gifted or not are highly inaccurate. In fact, according to the IQ test makers, IQ does not become stable until age 11 or 12.

Another was the importance of self-control and play! I was so pleased that the authors highlighted that play develops abstract thinking and self-control in children as well as the McREL play-based preschool curriculum, Tools of the Mind. (I’m a big fan!)

It’s a great book, and an important education for all parents.

Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It by Kelly Gallagher

I just ordered this book after hearing good things about it. Certainly the title entices me immediately — as I’ve seen first hand how schools can destroy a child’s love of reading.

Gallagher’s website defines the word — “Read-i-cide n: The systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the inane, mind-numbing practices found in schools. Reading is dying in our schools. Educators are familiar with many of the factors that have contributed to the decline — poverty, second-language issues, and the ever-expanding choices of electronic entertainment. In this provocative new book, Kelly Gallagher suggests, however, that it is time to recognize a new and significant contributor to the death of reading: our schools.”

Author, Gallagher, writes on the ASCD website the problems are that teachers develop test takers not readers, teachers over-teach or under-teach the book, as well as teachers limit authentic reading experiences.

Here, the Book Whisperer interviews Gallagher about the book.

books for your nightstand


Two winners will win Darell Hammond’s book, KaBoom!, signed by Hammond. Comment below by June 30, 2011 and you’ll be entered in the random drawing to win. Official rules. Follow KaBoom! on Facebook.

What book has recently inspired you?

What’s on your summer reading list this year?

More Books for Your Nightstand


  1. says

    I just recently got around to reading Nurture Shock. It’s a great read! So nice to see all the data to back up each idea. I particular enjoyed the section on praise.

  2. says

    Nurtureshock is definitely on my reading list. I hadn’t heard of Readicide before I read this post, that looks really compelling. We’ve made a commitment to teach our children to read before they start school if at all possible. I really admire and respect teachers, but there’s no way I’m leaving something that important to anybody else.

  3. says

    Great book suggestions! I’ve heard about Kaboom before, 60 Minutes, 20/20 or some similar show. Love what the organization is doing. My husband and I both grew up in cities where the only playgrounds were at the schools – we both played in our backyard ditches. Playgrounds keep kids safe and are necessary for health, socialization and development. Great program!

  4. says

    Oh, I’m always thrilled to have new books. My most recent parenting read was “Good Girls Don’t Get Fat” by Robyn Silverman. It’s one I strongly recommend! I can’t wait to check out this list!

  5. says

    Great list! If read, and really enjoyed, several of the titles on your list. So I’ll be sure to check out a few of the titles that are new to me. I’m hoping for more time to read this summer!

  6. Jennifer Lavender-Schott says

    Thank you so much for these book suggestions! I printed out the list and am going to visit the bookstore this weekend! I think I will start with Mind In The Making. :)

  7. says

    I’ve been loving Drive and Spark (the kindle lets me read far too many at once which means I make slower progress). I put a couple of the extras on my amazon wishlist. :)

  8. Erin says

    I would love to read KaBoom – I’ll add it to my summer list. I’m reading The Write Start right now.

  9. tina says

    As a teacher I have read readicide and agree with most of what he is saying. Unfortunately in Tx there is little I can do but teach what the state is requiring me to teach. The district and admin are very strong on test scores. I started teaching 14 years ago and it has only gotten worse. I try as much as I can to not just teach how to test but to teach them to become thinkers and readers since I know that is what they willl need to succeed outside of school. I look at what I teach now and am sad that school has become so dreary. I loved going to school when I was growing up and really think I would not succeed as well particularly the upper grades due to the extreme testing and pushing down of subject and skills.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *