Books I Love: Mindset – The New Psychology of Success: How We Can Learn To Fulfill Our Potential by Carol Dweck

Each summer I try to make the most of summer break by learning something, doing special summer only activities and reading a few books.

One of my teacher questions that comes up every year is student motivation. Why do some students excel and work hard and others give up before even trying? You’d maybe think it was the less skilled students who would freeze up and not want anyone to know about their lack of skill, right? In my experience it has actually been the opposite.

Every year it is the seemingly really smart kid that refuses to work. The kid who tests well and comes from a super involved family. The one who clearly knows how to do the work or could with a little instruction and practice, but for some reason, just isn’t motivated.

This kid gets under my skin every year. I’ve spent enough time in therapy to get why (I WAS that kid – my second grade teacher told my mom I “wasn’t living up to my potential” – *gulp*), so I’m super motivated to figure out their lack of motivation and follow through because I know how limiting this behavior can be. I also know telling someone they aren’t living up to their potential isn’t all that helpful. As in, not helpful at all.

So when I ran across the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – How We Can Learn to Fulfill Our Potential by Carol Dweck, I was super interested in reading it. The author directly addresses the issue of student motivation that I’d been grappling with all these years.


Check out this video from the Huffington Post with the author, Carol Dweck. In it she explains why praise is so harmful to student success and how to help students and their families move away from a fixed mindset which says intelligence is inherent and smart people shouldn’t need to work to a growth mindset which shows how the brain works like a muscle and can grow and change with challenge.


This infographic explains the basics as well and can be found in this well-written post by Alex Vermeer.

Let me start with what I liked about the book:

  • The title. I am very much in the thick of parenting and have a vested interest in student success so the title drew me in from the start.
  • The author very quickly disclosed she began her life in a fixed mindset with limited success which helped me admit to myself I had as well.
  • The author explained how her change in mindset from fixed to growth helped her do much more in her life than she ever thought possible. I’ve experienced a similar thing.
  • My mentor teacher during my first year was ahead of her time. She absolutely knew that praise was not helpful to students and in order to get students motivated, a teacher/parent needs to praise the work/effort rather than the child or child’s intelligence. – Dweck’s research proves her point.
  • This book helped me feel like I may be able to better work with my students who struggle with a fixed mindset. The brain research and the science behind the work makes it an easier sell to students and parents.

Things that weren’t my favorite:

  • This is another winner for me. Seriously, I can’t get enough. In fact, another teacher/coach and I have started a Facebook group to discuss this book further and how we can best apply the principles in our classrooms and with our own children.

The all important question – would I want to be friends with the author?

.Absolutely! I am completely fascinated with her work. I feel like I could learn so much from her.

Should you read Mindset?

Absolutely. It isn’t just about student motivation. The is a lot of great information about relationships and business and parenting. In other words, there is something for everyone.

Have you read Mindset? What did you think?


Are you looking for other books to read?

As part of my 43 Before 43, I tried to read 43 books. I made it all the way to 39 and only included books I liked, so if you are looking for something to read, please go take a look. The list varies quite a bit – from Harry Potter to yoga memoir and everything in between.

43 Books: Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman

As part of my 43 Before 43, I’m reading 43 books.

Let me start with what I liked about the book:

  • I absolutely l.o.v.e cultural studies especially with similar cultures. {I am practically clapping my hands and hopping with glee – this is how excited I am.}
  • The way the author describes French children as: sleeping through the night by three months, eating well-rounded multi-course meals, and their parents able to carry on adult conversations while the kids played independently reminded me of teachers who have a firm grasp on classroom management. {Hint: they don’t get the “easy” kids or work harder, they make it look easy, but they are managing those kids invisibly. – So exciting! And really, how do they do it?)
  • The French words/phrases/concepts: The following are a small, yet powerful list of my favorites.
  • The Pause: Making kids wait builds their waiting muscles thus avoiding immediate meltdowns.
  • Betise: small act of naughtiness which is considered normal child behavior and parents don’t need to freak out about (Hello, me!)
  • Cadre: A frame/framework – setting limits and having plenty of freedom within the frame. {sigh….I miss teaching}
  •  Non – no, absolutely not.

A couple of things that weren’t my favorite:

  • I wish the French pronunciation (as well as the English translation) would have been in the text. I loved knowing what the words meant without having to turn to the (well placed at the beginning) glossary, but I never looked at the pronunciation guide after my first read.
  • I know some people will HATE this book because she writes in a way that implies the French are doing it right thus making everyone else wrong. Although for some reason, my usually defensive self, did not even take it that way. I just read it with a lot of curiosity agreeing with parts and observing other differences.
  • The idea of kids going on week-long class trips sans parents as young as 3 or 4 years old gives me hives

The all important question – would I want to be friends with the author?

Yes! We could practice saying no convincingly to our little ones while wringing our hands over sending kids on vacations without us.

Should you read Bringing Up Bebe?

Yes. If you are interested in the lives of little people and if you like to travel or ever want to spend time in France.

You may also want to spend some time reading other reviews of this book. Holy moly, some people HATED it.

Have you read Bringing Up Bebe? What did you think?

43 Books – Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

As part of my 43 Before 43 I’m reading 43 Books.


Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection of Dear Sugar columns from The Rumpus. I checked this book out from my library’s e-reader collection because so many people have raved about the author’s (Cheryl Strayed) other book, Wild, that I decided I’d read this while I waited for Wild to become available.

Until I read this book I didn’t even know Sugar existed. I’m hoping I’m the only one! If you’ve never read Dear Sugar, stop what you are doing and go check it out.

Why you may be asking yourself, am I advocating you spend time reading an advice column? In a word, kindness. Sugar answers every single letter she gets with kindness. And a whole heart and no BS. In my opinion tender-hearted kindness is in short supply these days of reality TV marathons and competitiveness for competitiveness sake.

I spent most of the time reading Tiny Beautiful Things with tears streaming down my cheeks because I could feel Sugar’s empathy and compassion coming through her writing. I felt like she really cared about the letter writers and their problems.

It also probably helps that the problems people write to Sugar about are universal – love, lust, loss – and either me or someone I love has been in the midst of suffering like that and the answers Sugar gives and nothing short of tender reminders that we’re all in it together.

Do I recommend this book? Without a doubt.

Would I want to be friends with author? Yes. She seems like she’s been through a whole lot of life and come out the other side.

Have you read Tiny Beautiful Things or the Dear Sugar column? What did you think?

Picture Books I Love: I Am A Bunny

November is National Picture Book Month.

This bit of information just came my way, however I’ve been celebrating all month by reading to Ruby.

My new favorite picture book is one we got as a shower gift.

I Am A Bunny

Written by Ole Risom with pictures by Richard Scarry. It was first published in 1963. I’m not sure how I missed this gem in my childhood, so I’m thrilled to read it {several times} daily.

Nicolas is the bunny in this sweet adventure through the seasons. The text is simple, yet lovely. The illustrations are what makes this book such a treasure. Each season is pictured perfectly and have provided us  many an opportunity to talk about the changing seasons while we’re out on our daily walks.

If you are in need of a baby shower or toddler birthday gift, I highly recommend this book.


If you could only bring one picture book on your desert island {oh, the horror!} – what book would you bring?

Want more information on National Picture Book Month?

Happy Haul-idays Giveaway from Chronicle Books

Dear TGBTS friends,

I love books.

You love books.

We love charities and they love books.

So let’s try to win this thing, shall we?


Here’s how it works.

I post my my whole list favorite Chronicle Books here.

I tell you about the charity I’d like to donate to and why.

You comment, we tweet, we (hopefully) win.


My charity is my favorite branch of the Sacramento Public Library – Ella K. McClatchy.

I choose this branch because it is my home away from home and could always use more new books. McClatchy truly serves as a community meeting place and I hope to help it grow its collection.

Is this a good time to tell you ONE LUCKY COMMENTER also wins my book list?

Say whaa?

Yep, one of YOU wins the whole lot.

Plus my charity wins $500 in books of their choice.

Sounds good, huh?


A select few BOOKS!

The complete list is HERE.


In order to be eligible to win my haul of books, please click on the whole list above and leave a comment about which book is your favorite and why.

Are you on Twitter? Please tweet about my our list using the hashtag #happyhaulidays and we get an extra entry per day. So be sure to tweet away every day!

Good luck to all of us!

Celebrate National Library Week! Books I Love: Tales from the Yoga Studio {A Giveaway!}

It’s National Library Week and as part of that I’ve committed to sharing my favorite book, album and movie titles with my readers this week.

What a better way to start off the week than with a giveaway?

{Now you will have a chance to WIN THIS BOOK!}

{click the book to read about the book and more importantly to learn more about the author}

Title:  Tales from the Yoga Studio

Author: Rain Mitchell

Genre: Novel

Synopsis: A low-key local yoga teacher with a special gift for reaching people is targeted as the “Next Big Thing” by a high-powered company.

My thoughts: I made a connection right away. It reminded me of some of my gifted yoga teacher friends and what might happen if suddenly someone wanted to pay them a lot of money and make them famous. Would they sell out and become part of the yoga machine or would they stay true to themselves?

Being a part of a small studio that flies under the radar for most people, but totally changes lives, I identified with this story. How would I react if suddenly our studio became overrun with the rich and famous?  Or worse, if the teachers suddenly became like unattainable rock stars?

So are you ready to read this book yet?

A super quick read with some very likeable characters that clearly struck a nerve for me. I recommend reading it especially if you have a beloved teacher who (you hope) isn’t ever going to be on the cover of a yoga magazine.

Want to win my (advanced readers) copy of this book ?

Mandatory Entry is:

1. Leave a comment and tell me what you think makes a great yoga teacher.
Options for Extra Entries:
  • Subscribe to My Blog Via Email & Confirm Subscription (upper right hand corner)
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  • In order to ensure I see all your entries – please leave a separate comment for each entry.
Am I eligible to win?
Anyone with a valid e-mail and a U.S. mailing address is eligible.

When do I find out if I am the winner?

Contest is open from Sunday, April 1o, 2011 – noon (PST), Sunday, April 17th.

The winner will be chosen the old-fashioned way: names in a hat.

The winner will be announced on Monday, April 18th. You will have 1 week to e-mail us back with your home address so we can mail the prize.


This giveaway is now CLOSED.

And the winner is… Elizabeth!