Books about mothers and their children add insight

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 8, 2016

By Paul Birkhead
Rowan Public Library

Mother’s Day is today. It has been just over 100 years since President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation ordering its annual observance on the second Sunday in May.

It is a good day to honor our living mothers by treating them to a nice meal or giving them a special gift. It can also serve as a day to reflect on the mothers who are no longer with us. Rowan Public Library can help you celebrate the mother figures in your life.

Since President Wilson gets the credit for making Mother’s Day official, it often makes people wonder about his mother and what type of relationship he had with her. The library has several biographies on Woodrow Wilson and you can read all about his childhood.

In “Wilson,” by A. Scott Berg, Woodrow’s mother Jessie was described as a reserved, but loving woman. In numerous ways, she made a profound impact on the life of the future president, and Wilson later confessed he grew up as a “laughed-at mamma’s boy.”
If hearing the affect Woodrow Wilson’s mother had on his character intrigues you, check out “First Mothers: The Women Who Shaped the Presidents,” by Bonnie Angelo. An older book, “First Mothers” examines the mother-son dynamic of most of America’s 20th-century presidents.

From Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Bill Clinton, future presidents often had tough childhoods (poverty, death, loneliness) and strained relationships with their fathers. However, most also shared a strong bond with their mothers and remained devoted sons the rest of their lives. These women, though not perfect by any means, each had a profound impact on their sons and influenced the course of American history in the process.

Several other books in the library’s collection highlight the lives of mothers in more current settings. “The Rainbow Comes and Goes” is a brand new book written by Anderson Cooper and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt.

After suffering a near-fatal illness around her 91st birthday, Gloria and Anderson began a year-long mission to get to know each other better. While both are well-known celebrities and have very interesting stories to tell, their relationship and a desire to leave nothing unasked or unsaid can apply to any one of us with mothers still living.

“What I Told My Daughter” is a collection of essays edited by Nina Tassler and published to provide advice and encouragement to the upcoming generation of women. Tassler’s book has more than 50 contributors including many influential women leaders from a variety of fields including politics, sports and entertainment.

“Optimism for Autism” is an inspiring book by local author Susan King. A few years after her son Patrick was born, testing determined that he had autism. Immediately, fear and worries about the future filled Susan’s mind. However, thanks to a loving husband and a deep faith in God, Susan’s journey of sorrow turned to one of happiness as she embraced God’s plan for their lives.

The struggles the King family faced over the years were mighty, but Susan tells a powerful tale which is still unfolding to this day. Patrick attends Pfeiffer University and is an accomplished swimmer. He helped his mother with the book by adding sections written from his perspective.

Mothers have a special role in this world. While we may take them for granted sometimes, we should always use this day to honor or remember them. Stop by Rowan Public Library soon and read all about mothers.

Rowan Public Library annual book sale: Monday, May 9, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., headquarters. A selection of fiction, nonfiction and children’s books. Come find a bargain in withdrawn library books, DVDs, CDs and more. Items priced $2 or less.

Summer reading registration: Begins May 16, all locations. On Your Mark, Get Set, READ! Registered participants may log reading hours June 12 through Aug. 6 to earn prizes, complete weekly book reviews to enter weekly program raffles, and attend special weekly reading programs for their age group. Registration is free and can be done at any library location or online.

Book Bites Book Club: South (China Grove), Tuesday, May 31, 6-7 p.m. Free, open to the public. We discuss a different book each month and serve refreshments loosely related to the theme. “The Book Thief,by Markus Zusak. Need a copy? Call 704-216-7841.

Genealogy Class: Saturday, May 14, 10 a.m.-noon, headquarters. Co-hosted by the Genealogical Society of Rowan County and the History Room, this class will explore the different types of records used in genealogical research and the information that can be gleaned from them.

Learn.Act.Grow.: May 23, 5:30-7 p.m., East branch, Rockwell. Learn how to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables by canning, freezing or dehydrating. Local experts will discuss how to choose freezer-friendly foods, how to know when to keep and when to toss, and techniques for preserving. Participants with their own dial-gauge canners may bring the lid for Toi Degree, Rowan County Cooperative Extension Agent, to test for safety.  Register online or by calling 704-216-7734 to ensure your spot.

Chapter Chats Book Club: A weekly book club for teens ages 14-17 primarily for participants with developmental or intellectual disabilities, but all are welcome. Meets at Yosties, 202 N. Main St, Faith, Tuesdays, 4 p.m., through May 24.

Tail Waggin’ Tutors: Children ages 7 to 9 can practice reading skills in a relaxed, dog-friendly atmosphere. Reading Therapy dogs registered through Therapy Dogs International are available for beginning and struggling readers to read aloud to them. Reservations are recommended but not required. Headquarters, Tuesdays, 4:30 p.m. East, Mondays, 3:30 p.m., May 9 and 23.

Displays: Headquarters, Washington Day, celebrating Saturday, May 21 and photos from Spring photowalk; South, student art, South Rowan High School; East, kick-off display for Children’s Summer Reading Program – On Your Mark, Get Set, READ!

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second  language.