2019 Reading Recommendations

Waking up on Christmas morning, I didn’t always appreciate seeing the small rectangular boxes under the tree. It was a clear indication that my parents had opted to give my sisters and me books rather than the drum set, Atari 2600, or dirt bike that we hoped would be awaiting us. As I grew older, I thanked my parents for giving us a portal to worlds of discovery, adventure, imagination, and wonder in the pages of those books.
My own children have grown accustomed to receiving books for birthdays and special occasions. Sometimes they react as I did, but more often they unwrap books with a look of excitement and anticipation for the adventures that await them.
Over the break, I will indulge myself by spending days reading in the California sun, relaxing with a great story, consuming new information, and learning new ways to approach my work at The Bush School.
Below are a few recommendations for you to consider over winter break or to usher in 2019.
Seattleness: A Cultural Atlas by Tera Hatfield, Jenny Kempson, and Natalie Ross
After four-and-a-half years in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve thrown away my umbrellas and purchased a Subaru, which can only mean one thing: Seattle is home. Seattleness is a look at sites around Seattle, familiar and peculiar, that will make you curious about the city and fall in love with it all over again.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 by Francesca Cavallo by Elena Favilli
In my travels over the break, I am bringing this lovely children’s book with me to read to my nieces and nephews. It is filled with over 100 bedtime stories about extraordinary women who made history, left a legacy, and/or changed our world. These learned, intrepid, and talented women sought out a path to greatness, often defying odds, and paved a path for those who would follow.
The New Leadership Literacies: Thriving in a Future of Extreme Disruption and Distributed Everything by Bob Johansen
I had a chance to hear futurist Bob Johansen speak at a conference in October, and was impressed with his approach to decentralizing authority in organizations. Johansen understands that we live in a VUCA world—one filled with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity—and that for organizations to thrive, leaders must embrace new ways to strategize, engage, and plan for this new reality. He encourages us to forecast likely futures, decentralize authority when possible, learn to lead even when you’re not physically present, and keep personal energy high and transmit it throughout your organization.
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
I have been looking forward to reading this book since it was released in February. Westover’s memoir is the story of her journey as a young girl who was kept out of school, and, after leaving her survivalist family, went on to earn a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. I am intrigued by how the lessons learned in her childhood drove her to embrace formal education, and how her upbringing impeded—and perhaps, contributed to—her success.
If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
A classic that is now being made into a major motion picture, Baldwin tells the love story of Tish and Fonny, whose love overcomes a wrongful imprisonment. It is the truest of love stories, filled with despair, anguish, passion, and triumph. I loved this book when I read it twenty-plus years ago, and I don’t know if I can stand to see it on the screen.
On the theme of books, please read about this year’s Book Fair which raised money for Bush’s need-based financial aid program and provided books for classrooms at Bush and Madrona Elementary.
I would love to hear about the books that are on your bookshelves, your bedside table, or tablet that you are excited to begin over the break or in the new year.
Hoping you have a safe and restful break.
Warm regards,
Percy L. Abram, Ph.D.
Head of School

On Spending Time with Family Over Winter Break

While reorganizing my daughter’s room over the weekend, I picked through some of her books on her bookshelf, browsing titles as I took a nostalgic trip down memory lane. As a Ninth Grade student, my daughter Claudia is as likely to download and read books on her phone or tablet as she is to thumb through the pages of a hard cover book. I reached the top shelf and pulled down one of her favorite books from her youth, Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret. In Third Grade, Claudia and her friends read the book in advance of viewing the Martin Scorsese film adaptation Hugo.

I combed through the book and was captivated again by the book’s drawings. Selznick’s illustrations are part magical realism, part builder’s manual, and part science fiction; they are wholly astonishing. I remember as a child creating robots out of radios, mini-helicopters out of spare bicycle parts, and time machines out of car parts. I also remember the wonder and awe on Claudia’s face—and later my son Carlos’—as they read the book as young children, rooted in the world of young Hugo.

One of the quotes from the book reminded me about the ephemeral nature of time—an important character in the story. Selznick writes, “Time can play all sorts of tricks on you. In the blink of an eye, babies appear in carriages, coffins disappear into the ground, wars are won and lost, and children transform, like butterflies, into adults.” As we take a well-deserved rest away from The Bush School during the winter break, time may be the greatest gift we can offer our loved ones, even if they are clamoring for a new iPhone or XBox.

Spending time with our families, reading together, hiking, baking cookies, playing a board game, telling stories, or making crafts and collages creates lasting memories and slows the metamorphosis of our children into adults. Looking back on how much has changed, and how fast Claudia and Carlos have grown, I value the precious and priceless gift of time each day.

I am fortunate that during the school year I get to spend almost six hours a day with your funny, thoughtful, kind, and creative children. We will miss them over the winter break. Please take the next two weeks to enjoy their presence, their humor, and their creativity. Soon, like butterflies, they will transform into adults and fly away.

On behalf of The Bush School family, I wish you a safe and restful winter break.

Summer Reading

I have selected the books for for the 2017-2018 Head of School Book Club series, listed below. 

Fall Book Club
Wednesday, December 6, 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.

The Path to Purpose by William Damon
Drawing on the revelatory results of a landmark study, William Damon brilliantly investigates the most pressing issue in the lives of youth today: why so many young people are “failing to launch”—living at home longer, lacking career motivation, struggling to make a timely transition into adulthood, and not yet finding a life pursuit that inspires them.

Continue reading “Summer Reading”

Why Baseball Matters in the Classroom

Watching the 9–3 Chicago Cubs victory over Cleveland reminded me how compelling America’s Pastime can be. Baseball has the power to elevate an ordinary player to hero status with the swing of a bat, an exceptional catch, or a remarkable 9th inning save. Baseball is a statistics-driven league. Historians and statistics geeks love to compare players within seasons and across eras to determine their relative value. In the drawn-out 162-game baseball season, there are few anomalies and a player’s worth is easily measured by his stats—often in averages. Good hitters average more than three hits every ten at bats. Great pitchers average fewer than two runs per nine innings.  Continue reading “Why Baseball Matters in the Classroom”