Thursday, October 15, 2015

Picture Books that Model Perseverance

It’s Picture Book Month and I have picture books on my mind. I am beginning to think in lists. Often. It may be a syndrome. Picturebooklistitis? Something like that.

On Friday, I had some parent meetings in the a.m. It was lovely to talk about students who have demonstrated improvement in goal areas due to persistence, determination and creative approaches to problems. Heading home, after school, I started thinking about picture books on this theme of persistence.

What exactly was I thinking about? All of the synonyms for perseverance: persistence, tenacity, determination . . . But also being able to solve problems with creativity or a different/unique approach. A lot of it has to do with being able to focus but also being able to think outside of the box. Sometimes it is just about, simple but tough, hard work and diligence.

I think all of these picture books highlight a particular aspect of this theme and in their own way, model perseverance.

Twenty favourite titles:

These ten beauties:

And ten more:

Twenty picture book titles that model perseverance:

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

Rosie Revere, Engineer written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

Prudence Wants a Pet written by Cathleen Daly and illustrated by Stephen Michael King

Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley

Papa’s Mechanical Fish written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Boris Kulikov

If You Want to See a Whale written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Rosyln Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth by Marie-Louise Gay

Ice by Arthur Geisert

Flight School by Lita Judge

A House in the Woods by Inga Moore

The Mighty Lalouche written by Matthew Olshan and illustrated by Sophie Blackall

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds 

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires 

A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead

Oscar and Hoo written by Theo and illustrated by Michael Dudok De Wit

Queen of the Falls by Chris VanAllsburg 

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

Ten Birds by Cybèle Young

In case you’ve missed them, I have been making more lists:

Picture Books that celebrate courage

Picture Books to make you giggle

Happy Picture Book Month!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Best of the Best Business Books for the Ages

Best of the Best Business Books for the Ages

By Dan Coughlin

In my lifetime I’ve read over 500 books. Recently I put together a list of 110 recommended books that I called “Business Books for the Ages.” You can see this list, which represents 20 percent of all the books I’ve read, on my Web site.

I then decided to narrow that to the ten books that I felt were the most important business books for readers to dig into. Now that was an even more challenging assignment. It represented less than two percent of all the books I’ve read. I decided to choose ten topics (okay, actually fourteen), select one book for each topic and then provide a brief explanation as to why I selected it. Here goes

The Ten (okay, fourteen) Most Important Business Books for the Ages

Less is More by Jason Jennings. Jason is the master at finding companies that are truly productive, narrowing his list to the absolute best of the best and then immersing himself into researching what makes those companies truly extraordinary in the area of productivity. I think you will find this book to be of tremendous practical value.

Walt Disney by Neal Gabler. Since I believe that perseverance is of utmost importance in creating a great business and a great career, I found this book to be amazing. Disney’s creative mind was a big part of his success, but a bigger part was his absolute willingness to persevere no matter what obstacles he faced. Stubborn, yes; legendary performance, double yes.

Overcoming Obstacles
Personal History by Katherine Graham. Greatness is also derived through overcoming massive obstacles. When she was 46, Katherine Graham’s husband, Phil, committed suicide. Suddenly she was the publisher of theWashington Post with exactly zero experience in any aspect of publishing a newspaper. Through exceptional courage and tenacity she vaulted the paper onto the national stage and became one of the most powerful women in the world.

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin. This is the extraordinary story of the eighteen years that Steve Martin invested to go from being a comic newbie to the most popular stand-up comic in history. My favorite quote in the book is from E.E. Cummings who wrote, “I am abnormally fond of that precision which creates movement.” It is this pursuit of precision that generates extraordinary business results in every industry.

Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout. The brilliance of this book is in its simplicity. Ries and Trout explain that every buyer carries categories around in his or her head, and that for every category there is always a ranking of the products or services within that buyer’s head. The key is to have the first or second position in the minds of buyers for the category you want to be known for.

Inside Steve’s Brain by Leander Kahney. This is a remarkably useful insight into the management approach of Steve Jobs, who guided Apple to fundamentally change three industries: computers, music and cell phones. I found it to be extremely helpful in multiple areas.

The Age of Turbulence by Alan Greenspan. Greenspan does a spectacular job of explaining the impact of emotions, particularly exuberance and fear, on the economy and financial decisions. From this book, I learned the psychology of results and the importance of staying logical with results and not getting emotional.

The Snowball by Alice Schroeder. Extraordinary in its detail, this book provides the reader with a deep understanding of Buffett’s approach to investing, which he cultivated over a period of more than sixty years. It’s quite long, but it moves very fast and you will walk away with powerful and practical insights on what types of organizations to invest your time and money into.

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Goodwin is a gifted writer, and this is her greatest book. It is a magnificent example of how completely different types of members can make for an exceptionally powerful team. One of Abraham Lincoln’s greatest contributions to America was his willingness to assemble the best team he could and constantly work to make it better.

Getting Started in Consultingby Alan Weiss. In times of great economic change, many successful executives decide to start their own consulting practices. They find purpose in leveraging their knowledge and experience in ways that can help other people achieve their desired business outcomes. Alan Weiss is the world-wide guru on how to make this happen, and this is his finest book, which should be renamed, What to Do From the Day You Start Your Consulting Business to the Day You Retire.

The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. Not only is Friedman a compelling writer, but his travels and ongoing diary make the concept of globalization real and accessible. This book is a masterpiece in explaining how interconnected the world of products, services and producers really are.

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker. This is Drucker’s shortest and finest book. Chapters two and four are particularly useful in explaining how leveraging strengths and optimizing priority management can generate extraordinary results.

Only the Paranoid Survive by Andy Grove. Perhaps Grove’s greatest contribution to business was his explanation of strategic inflection points and how they provide extraordinary opportunities for strategic growth. Times of great systemic change, like the era we’re living in now, provide great opportunities to step back and find better approaches to the marketplace.

The Greatest Miracle in the World by Og Mandino. This is the shortest book on my list, but it was critically helpful to me during two key transitions in my career.

I hope you find this list to be of as much value for you as it was for me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Instilling Perseverance In Children

Perseverance means having the self-discipline to continue a task in spite of being confronted with difficulties. As Albert Einstein once said, "It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."

The following classroom activities can be used to promote perseverance in students:

Thinking about perseverance.
Lead a discussion about what perseverance means and does not mean. For example, it means to keep working until the assignment is complete, instead of trying only a few times and quitting. With students' help, list the steps needed to learn a new skill such as riding a bicycle, learning to swim, or memorizing the multiplication table.

Abraham Lincoln and Perseverance
Abraham Lincoln once said, "People are about as happy as they make their minds up to be." Share that quote with students. Also share that Mr. Lincoln experienced many successes in his life, but he also failed in business in 1831, was defeated in his bid for a seat in the legislature in 1832, lost his bid for congress in 1843, lost his run for the Senate in 1855, and was defeated for Vice President in 1856. Yet, in 1860, Mr. Lincoln was elected President of the United States. List and discuss the qualities he must have had. For example: positive attitude, tenacity, diligence, courage, boldness, self-discipline, and determination.

Others Who Showed Perseverance
Have each student write a report on a person of their choosing who demonstrated perseverance. Some examples include: Albert Einstein, Helen Keller, Thomas Edison, Harriet Tubman, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Mother Teresa, Madame (Marie) Curie, Ray Charles, Rosa Parks, Lance Armstrong, or Christopher Reeve. Have them answer the following questions in their reports:

  • How did he or she show perseverance?
  • In what ways are you like the person in your report?
  • In what ways are you different from that person?
  • What did you learn about yourself from writing the report?

Stories of Perseverance
Read aloud (and perhaps invite students to act out) stories of perseverance. For example, you might share The Tortoise and the Hare, The Little Engine That Could, or any other story that has perseverance as a theme. Arrange children into groups and challenge them to write a simple poem, a song, or a short story that exemplifies perseverance. Have them perform their works for each other or for children in lower grades.

Perseverance in the News
Have students locate newspaper or magazine articles concerning a person who demonstrated perseverance after experiencing failure. Ask them to report what they learned.

Feelings of Perseverance
Have students write or draw a picture illustrating a time when they persevered and succeeded even though they felt like giving up. Then discuss the feelings associated with their achievement, for example: pride, happiness, self-confidence, and self-esteem.

Perseverance Role Plays
Invite students to role play -- or to use puppets to role play -- situations where individuals demonstrate perseverance. Examples: a child who stutters and keeps trying to speak fluently, a child who has learning problems yet puts forth much effort to learn, a student in a wheelchair who tries to do new things.

Persevering In Spit of Obstacles
Lead a discussion on how negative comments from others can influence a student's attitude toward learning. Discuss what children can do to prevent these remarks from hindering their efforts. Talk about ways one can be successful in spite of them. (For more ideas, see Encouraging Thoughts.)

Perseverance Role Models
Invite a respected community member who overcame obstacles to speak to your students about his or her life. Ask the individual to discuss the principles that led to his accomplishments. After the visit, have children compose and send a thank you card or letter.

Easy vs. Difficult
Ask students to create lists of things that are difficult for them to do and easy for them to do. Then discuss the fact that every child has strengths and weaknesses; if children keep trying to do things on their difficult lists, they will most likely be successful.

Planning to Persevere
Brainstorm and list obstacles, habits, and attitudes that prevent people from accomplishing their goals. Then have the children write down or draw a picture of what they want to be or do when they grow up. Arrange students into pairs and have them share their ideas. As a group list, generate a list of "general steps" needed to fulfill their dreams.

Life Stories
Have students create a list of questions that they would like to ask an older relative or family friend. For example:

  • What was the most important thing that you learned from your mother or father?
  • What values are most important in your life today?
  • What are you most proud of doing?
  • Tell about a mistake you made. What did you learn from that mistake?
  • Describe a time when you kept trying even though you felt like giving up.

After completing the interview, have the children write a report on what they learned.
Since perseverance is a necessary ingredient for student achievement, it needs to be encouraged. Helping children learn to be patient and to persist in spite of failure are attributes that will contribute to their future success.

See more at:

Monday, October 12, 2015

Elementary Teachers Share Their Favorite Children’s Books

I’ve asked some elementary teachers from Kindergarten all the way through 5th grade to share their favorite children’s books of all-time.   Keep reading to see what teachers chose as the best children’s books!

These teachers have been reading children’s books almost daily for years, so I know it was hard for them to narrow down their list of favorites. Keep on reading to see which books made the cut as their favorite children’s books! 

Cheri~ Kindergarten

1. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin

This is an awesome book for younger children.  It comes with a song that is very catchy where your child/student will be singing a long and eventually be able to retell the story.   This book also teaches colors and has a great moral.

2. Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin

Another book written by Eric Litwin similar to the origninal Pete the cat.This one teaches numbers with a subtraction element.

3. All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon

This picture book is awesome and has great illustrations. It’s very poetic and implies that the world is all of us and we need to take care of it.

4. All Fancy Nancy books  by Jane O’Connor

I haven’t read all of these; however, I do like that they teach all kinds of vocabulary and even explain it. Girls tend to like these books as the main character is rather “girly”.

Kelly~ 1st Grade

1. I Don’t Want to Go to Bed! by Julie Sykes

This story has repetitive text and bright illustrations. It has some great messages- it is best to follow instructions to start with, and that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. The kids always like the bush baby!

2. Counting Crocodiles by Judy Sierra

This one is fun! It has rhyming text without being mind numbing. The crocs in the story are very zany, and I love the tricky monkey. The kids and I love saying ‘sillabobble sea’ most of all. The kids like counting the crocs at the end!

3. Little By Little by Amber Stewart

I read this the first week of school and display it where it can be easily referred to all year.  It reinforces my message that you don’t learn to read overnight, but by taking small steps toward your goal, working hard and never giving up. The kids really seem to get it.

Felicia~ 1st Grade

1. Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Aweibel

2. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Leslie~ 1st Grade

1. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

2. Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

3. Owen by Kevin Henkes

Dianne~ 2nd Grade

1. Tough Boris by Mem Fox

2. Koala Lou by Mem Fox

3. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

Jan~ 3rd Grade

1. Frindle by Andrew Clements

A story that has fun with words. Kids at this age like words. This story builds on this and allows them to think about derivative of words and even how they could create a word and think about its use.

2. The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynn Reid Banks

A great read-aloud with characters that really come alive within the text. Great vocabulary development. Children love the plot and predicting what will come next.

3. The Castle in the Attic  by Elizabeth Winthrop

A great follow-up to Indian In the Cupboard. I like to compare and contrast characters, setting, and plot between this book and the book above.

Paul~ 4th Grade

1. By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleischman

This is a really incredible depiction of the California Gold Rush. The two main characters, Jack and Praiseworthy, are constantly coming up with clever ways to get themselves and their friends out of trouble. Kids learn about the Gold Rush even though they just think they’re reading an entertaining book.

2. The BFG by Roald Dahl

3. Bandit’s Moon by Sid Fleischman

Also centered around the Gold Rush, Bandit’s Moon tells about the infamous bandit, Joaquin Murrieta. The story shows things aren’t always as they appear, as Joaquin turns out to be a caring man who was wronged. It doesn’t take long before you’re cheering on the ‘bad guy’.

Moya ~ 4th Grade

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

 I like to begin the year with this book as my read aloud. It has short chapters and beautiful illustrations. It appeals to both boys and girls.The kids love it while we’re reading it together, yet it is not a book they often choose to read on their own.

I have many girls who are always asking me for new series books. These are two of their favorites:

Twice Upon a Time #1: Rapunzel, The One With All the Hair by Wendy Mass

Twice Upon a Time #2: Sleeping Beauty, The One Who Took the Really Long Nap by Wendy Mass

 There are other books in the series but these are the two I have. I encourage the girls to read the actual fairy tale before reading these books.
Another series my girls like is The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley.

I think the girls like these because they are related to fairy tales, but set in modern time and there is a lot of adventure and mystery.

The Fairy Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm, Book 1) by Michael Buckley


Friday, October 9, 2015

Children’s Book List: Picture Books about Perseverance

The beginning of the year (or beginning of the school year) is a great time to talk about setting goals and perseverance. This children’s book list contains a collection of picture books perfect for initiating conversations about never giving up and always reaching for the stars!

My kids always seem to respond well to stories. They often connect events in the story to their own lives.  This set of picture books is perfect for opening up a conversation about perseverance and never giving up. I share my thoughts on each book below, and Lucy (who is six years old) shares her thoughts on some of the books too! (Her comments are in green.)
I’ve provided an age range for each book to give you a general idea which kids the books are geared towards , but I’m a firm believer in listening to your child. You might be surprised which books your child relates to- even if they are not in the suggested age range!

Children’s Book List: Picture Books about Perseverance

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss

We often pull this book out during spring to talk about planting seeds, but it’s also a great book for illustrating perseverance and patience. In this story a little boy plants a carrot seed. Throughout the story various people tell him the seed won’t grow, but the boy never gives up! (Ages 3-8)

Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems

We love Mo Willems books, and this one is a favorite for sure. In this story Elephant and Piggie meet a new friend, Snake, who wants to play catch with them. But snake has no arms. The characters never give up on trying to find a solution to include their new friend! (Ages 3-8)

How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers

Oliver Jeffers is another one of our favorite authors. In this book, a little boy really wants to catch a star. He comes up with all kinds of ways to try to catch one, but none of the ideas seem to work. But he’s determined to never give up. This book is literally a great example of reaching for the stars! (Ages 3-8)

Ruby’s Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges

This book is set a long time ago in China, and is based on the life of the author’s grandmother. Ruby, the main character, is determined to go to college when she’s older instead of getting married and staying home as is the normal tradition of her family. This book is a great way to open up discussions about perseverance and bravery. (Ages 5-10) 

“Ruby’s wish is about a girl who lived when they took care of the boys more than the girls. Ruby was brave when she told her grandfather about how that it’s not fair that the boys get more stuff than the girls and how the boys got to go to a higher grade and the girls just had to get married. But then when she was going to get married instead, she got to go to a higher school! It’s a true story!” ~ Lucy

Salt in His Shoes by Deloris Jordan & Roslyn M. Jordan

This children’s book is about the famous basketball star, Michael Jordan, and is written by his mother and sister. In the story the reader discovers the obstacles Michael Jordan had in reaching his dream of becoming a famous basketball player. His family helps Michael to persevere through the obstacles to reach his dream. (Ages 4-8)

“A little boy named Michael played basketball with his older brothers. He was short, and there was one player on the other team that was way bigger than him. He always made his team lose. But then when he got home Michael said to his mama- how can I grow taller? His mom said put salt in your shoes and say your prayers and then you’ll grow taller. So he did that for two whole months, but he still didn’t grow taller. He went back to the basketball team one day, and he jumped higher than the guy that was bigger than him. He made his team win! He became a big basketball player. Michael kept trying to play basketball even when he lost. He kept trying until he became a superstar.” ~ Lucy

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

Here’s another book perfect for illustrating patience and perseverance. (It would also be a great addition to your set of Earth Day books!) A little boy works hard to grow a lush, green garden only to find out the winter snow has ruined most of it. But he doesn’t get discouraged and, together with some neighbors, works hard to make it green again. (Ages 4-8)

“A boy lived in a dark, smokey place that had no plants. But then one day he just took out one watering can and watered and watered and watered. And then everyone else saw the boy watering and they started to help plant. But at winter time all the plants got destroyed, but they just did it over again, and the plants grew everywhere. The boy never gave up when he planted the plants, even when they just got ruined.”~ Lucy

Matthew’s Dream by Leo Lionni

Here’s a book by another one of our favorite children’s authors, Leo Lionni. In this book a little mouse dreams of becoming an artist when he grows up. He works hard to fulfill his dream and even has a special painting in a museum! This book is perfect for discussing setting goals and working to reach them. (Ages 3-7)

A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams

I was introduced to this children’s book back when I was studying to be a teacher in college. It’s always remained a favorite of mine, and it fits right in with this book list on never giving up no matter which obstacles you may face. In this story Rosa, her mother, and her grandmother save up coins to buy a chair after their furniture is destroyed in a fire. (Ages 4-8)

Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats

Ezra Jack Keats is the author of two of my favorite children’s books, The Snowy Day and Peter’s Chair. Whistle for Willie is another of my favorites. In this book a little boy really wants to learn to whistle. He tries and tries and imagines how neat it would be to whistle to call his dog, and finally it happens! Such a sweet book that kids can really related to. (Ages 3-7)

Do you have any favorite children’s books that you would include in this book list? 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Teaching Perseverance

Do you teach perseverance in your classroom? It’s not something you’ll find listed in the Common Core standards…. the student will persevere through difficult tasks. However, as we all know, children aren’t likely to get far in school (or life) without it.

I was thinking about that the other day as I prepared a presentation about arts integration. Perseverance is one of the important traits developed by arts experiences. Playing in a marching band, acting in a play, dancing with a company, sitting at a piano day after day to master a piece of music. It all develops perseverance.

When you hear the life stories of famous scientists, inventors, artists, and visionaries, they always have one trait in common: amazing perseverance. Most of them failed repeatedly before they experienced success. However, an internal drive for success and a “never give up” attitude defined their life and their work. You’ve heard many of these before.

Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first television job because she was “unfit for TV.”
Jerry Seinfeld was booed off the stage the first time he tried to deliver a comedy routine.
The manager of the Grand Old Oprey fired Elvis Presley after his first performance, suggesting he “go back to driving a truck.”

Dr. Seuss was rejected many times before publishers accepted his first book.
What made these folks get back up and try again? Perseverance! How can we develop this critical trait in our students?

Here are some ideas:
1- Use language carefully to make the connection between hard work and success. My husband and I are working on this with our own children. Instead of telling my daughter, “I loved your dance performance. You are such a good dancer!” we say, “I am so proud of your performance. All that time rehearsing in the studio really paid off.”

Instead of generalized praise, “You are so good/smart/special,” connect high performance and accomplishment to hard work and effort.

“You got an A on your test! I can see that you really prepared and worked hard.”
The connection also works in the reverse. “You didn’t do very well on your test. How much time did you spend studying? What can you do to get a better grade next time?”

It’s important that students understand the power they have over their own success and failure. (And that failure doesn’t have to be a permanent condition!)

2- Set goals with your students. Teaching children the power of setting and achieving goals is a process they can carry through life. But don’t stop at setting the goal- help them identify the steps they will need to take to reach the goal.

It’s like the difference between saying, “I want to lose 50 pounds.” (A general goal without a plan = likely to fail) vs. “I want to lose 50 pounds. To reach that goal I will cut sugar and junk food out of my diet, eat mostly fruits, vegetables, and lean meats,  exercise at least 4 times per week, and weigh myself daily.” (A goal with a specific plan = destined for success.)

In the classroom, you can do this at a variety of levels; class goals, daily behavioral goals, academic goals, etc. I have a lot more to say about this topic, so look for more in a future post!

3- Share this video. Some of our “biggest stars” failed spectacularly before they finally succeeded. (As mentioned above.) This brief video would be a great intro. to a lesson specifically devoted to teaching perseverance.

4- Read books that feature characters notable for their perseverance.

Here are some of my favorites:
Mia Hamm: Winners Never Quit
Young Mia hates to lose. In fact, she hates it so much that she quits in the middle of a game. The next day she isn’t allowed to participate due to her attitude. She quickly learns that though you might not kick a goal every time you play, there is more to being a winner than the final score.

Luke Goes to Bat 
Young Luke wants to play stickball with the neighborhood kids but he’s too small. When they do let him play, he is so bad that he fears they will never let him play again. However, some encouragement from his grandmother and a trip to watch his hero, Jackie Robinson, helps Luke learn not to give up.

 Thank You, Mr. Falker
An eager Tricia starts school, excited to learn to read. However, it proves to be much more difficult than she imagined. Mr. Falker intervenes (as a good teacher will do) and helps Tricia overcome her learning challenges. Lovely and inspiring story!

Brave Irene
This William Steig story is one of my favorites with a plucky heroine! Irene Bobbin is the dressmaker’s daughter. There is a grand party and the duchess has commissioned her mother to create a beautiful gown for the event. Her mother finishes the dress just in time, but falls ill and is unable to deliver it. Young Irene braves a fierce winter storm and other obstacles to deliver the dress for her mother. It’s a great little story about a girl who loves her mother and refuses to give up in spite of very difficult circumstances.

Sally Jean, the Bicycle Queen
Sally Jean is a girl who knows how to get things done. (A girl after my own heart!) When she outgrows her treasured bicycle, it takes hard work and ingenuity to get back on two wheels.

Stone Fox 
This is one of the best books you will ever read to your students. I mentioned it as the book that “hooked” one of my reluctant readers and forever changed his relationship with books. Little Willy lives with his grandfather and one day the grandfather won’t get out of bed. We find out that their farm is under foreclosure and it looks like all will be lost. However, Little Willy realizes that if he wins the dog-sled race, he could win enough money to save the farm. It’s a brief but compelling chapter book. Dare you not to cry at the end!

For older kids, I also love Gary Paulsen’s books such as Hatchet (the story of a 13 year-old’s wilderness survival experience following a plane crash) and Brian’s Winter (surviving winter elements.) Kids love these books.

*Remember that children won’t make the connection between these stories and perseverance unless you point it out!

How do you teach perseverance to your students? Any good books to recommend?