Advice for Parents from Book Festival Authors & Around the Library

Over 120 authors participated in this year’s National Book Festival, and their recorded conversations are now available on the Library’s website and the Library’s YouTube channel. Included among them is “Parenting for Success,” a conversation with Judith Warner (author of “And Then They Stopped Talking to Me: Making Sense of Middle School”) and Esther Wojcicki (author of “How to Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results”). The presentation touched on the meaning of “success,” reflections on parenthood, the inspirations behind each book, the authors’ personal role models, and more.

In defining “success,” both authors alluded to parents playing an assisting role for their children in their development. Judith Warner emphasized parents supporting children “to be their best selves,” while helping them find ways to overcome obstacles. For Esther Wojcicki, being a successful child “means that you feel empowered to follow your dreams,” and are backed by helpful cheerleaders.

Warner also defined the shift she noticed in what she called the “world of middle school parenthood,” and Wojcicki described some principles that parents should foster with their children, using the acronym “TRICK”: Trust, Respect, Independence, Collaboration, Kindness. The authors rounded out the conversation by sharing important messages that they draw from their books. Their suggestions to parents? Warner recommended to “take care of yourself,” including mentally and emotionally, while Wojcicki advised: “Don’t do anything for your children that they can do for themselves.”

The Library of Congress’s online collections also feature primary sources that offer perspectives on parenting from past eras and from familiar figures including the following:

“Rules for Philip Hamilton,” from the Library’s Alexander Hamilton Papers, outlines a plan of activities that Hamilton dictated for his son, Philip. “…From the first of April to the first of October” Philip was required “to rise not later than six o’clock — The rest of the year not later than seven.” Hamilton emphasized that, “[Philip] must not depart from any of these rules without my permission.” (For a transcription, visit Founders Online from the National Archives):

Screenshot of the manuscript "Rules for Philip Hamilton" from the Alexander Hamilton Papers at the Library of Congress.

“Rules for Philip Hamilton” [1800], from the Alexander Hamilton Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

In a letter in the Library’s Theodore Roosevelt Papers, Teddy Roosevelt wrote of his children that: “…we spend no small part of our time in doing our best to prevent them becoming self-conscious through being talked about.” He then went on to emphasize that they were, in his view, like other children, “…on the whole pretty good, and are not always good at all.”

Screenshot of a letter from President Theodore Roosevelt, November 2, 1901, from the Theodore Roosevelt Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

Letter from President Theodore Roosevelt, November 2, 1901, from the Theodore Roosevelt Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

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