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Turn Off Your Book in Preparation for Landing

Last year I wrote a blog titled "What's Afterschool Reading this Summer?" That's what I intended to do before I got sidetracked reflecting on a recent change in my reading habits. Four times a year the National AfterSchool Association publishes AfterSchool Today, a magazine written by and for the afterschool field.

One of my favorite sections of the magazine includes reviews of books for afterschool leadership, programs and kids. As I looked through the 2015 issues, I realized that I hadn't read most of the books. Yikes! Surprising, since I am an avid reader.

What's happened to me? I LOVE BOOKS. However, I've found that much of my reading has recently transitioned from print to digital. This switch has its pros and its cons.

The pros: It has opened up a whole new world of access for me. I can check out e-books and magazines from the library and have them delivered directly to my iPad. I can download those PDFs with tiny print and enlarge it on my screen. AfterSchool Today is available digitally.

The cons: Because of this transition, I've been getting much of my information through social media. (Yikes?) A friend quotes me as saying, "I will never use an eReader, because I don't want anyone to tell me that I have to turn off my book in preparation for landing." Never say never, I guess, and of course that was before the FAA changed the rules. In reflection, just like with kids, the bottom line is that reading is important and how we read matters less.

But I digress. So, what is afterschool reading this summer and what will be on my iPad? The following books from the 2015 AfterSchool Today book reviews sound great! All of the books are available in both digital and paper formats. Anyone want to join me for a virtual book club?

Leading Imperfectly takes a humorous, yet targeted approach to authentic leadership. James Robilotta explores how leaders can be true to themselves while showing their "real" nature. A blend of humorous, "real," relatable stories causes one to consider their journey and the impact we can have as leaders and with people in general. This quick, thought-provoking book connects with those new to leadership roles, those wanting to develop informal leadership skills, and more seasoned leaders still working to make the right connections to share our stories to support and mentor new leaders. It provides options to stay connected with the author, continuing the conversation with him as a coach or seeking others to assist in ongoing learning and leading opportunities. Contributed by Janeal Roberts-Doctolero, Chief Learning Officer, Compass Learning Group.

"If it takes a village to raise a child, the prognosis for American children is not good." This sobering line fairly synopsizes an examination of national trends over five decades in areas including family structure, parenting styles, schools and community supports. Through parent and child interviews, and extensive quantitative data, research pinpoints the widening upper-middle-class/lower-income youth opportunity gap. Particularly in the "What Is to Be Done?" chapter, Putnam stresses afterschool, extracurricular and community-based activity access as equalizing factors. Our Kids emboldens leaders in their commitment to support afterschool programs as key to attaining the American Dream—equality of opportunity. Contributed by Gina Warner, President and CEO, National Afterschool Association.

HOW TO RAISE A WILD CHILD: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature by Scott D. Sampson
What's the key to raising a child who's connected to nature? Spend time outdoors. "The path to becoming a wild child starts with being a wonder kid" (p. 169). According to Sampson, a "wild child" shares a deep connection with nature and people. Doing so requires adult mentors for guidance. Sampson's book offers ten specific "secrets" for instilling a deep longing for nature in today's digital generation. Generously interspersed with anecdotes about raising his daughter, Jade, Sampson attempts to provide parents with practical tips for helping children from an early age through adolescence love the great outdoors—admittedly a challenge for a "screen-addicted" generation. Sampson cites John Dewey and advocates for more "place-based education" using experiential learning methods. Our work's cut out for us, yet afterschool programs are positioned to help children understand everything in the universe is connected with everything else—and why. "Nature is a contact sport, and nature can take it" (p. 14). Contributed by Kirk A. Astroth, Assistant Dean and Director, Arizona 4-H Youth Development, Tucson, Arizona.

Submitted by Heidi Ham, NAA Vice President of Programs and Strategy. Engage with Heidi via twitter @ham_heidi or e-mail