Novelist Julia Glass, who writes beautifully about families and who has two sons of her own, talks about the books that have most influenced her mothering, including The Earliest Relationship, A Stone Boat, The Wonder of Boys (which my mom has given me but I have not yet read), The Stardust Lounge, The Important Book, and What Is God?
I'm particularly intrigued by that last one. Ever since my dear childhood friend Sara asked me to be one of her daughter Jennifer's godparents, I've been musing on the subject of how best to teach Luke about religion and spirituality. (In Jennifer's case my role is more a social one than religious -- although I did just purchase her a mini Ostheimer nativity set.)
While all three of Luke's living grandparents have strong religious beliefs, David is pretty dead set against organized religion and the notion of a personal God who, he would argue, behaves like a bipolar Santa Claus. I guess that, when pressed, I'd have to say that I'm an agnostic. But I feel pretty strongly (yet vaguely) that there's more to all this than... all this. What's more, I strongly believe that many of the stories from the various religious traditions are based on universal truths, that these stories are invested with a special kind of power, and that we should all be familiar with them. David and I agree that we need to be open-minded and respectful when talking about this subject with Luke and to stress that different people believe different things and that it's important to be tolerant. I've been looking for simple picture books that introduce the concept of God and religion for a couple of weeks now and What Is God? looks like it might be good. Two others that are on my radar are Because Nothing Looks Like God and In God's Name but I haven't held either one in my hands just yet.
I have to say, as I have said before, that Cookie magazine's "On My Nightstand" column, in which writers highlight the books that have helped to shape their parenting, is a really terrific feature.