In late September, my husband and I were fortunate enough to hear Doris Kearns Goodwin speak in Cambridge about her new book, Leadership in Turbulent Times. I heard her back in June at ALA Annual and knew Tom would enjoy her as well. As avid biography readers and history lovers, we are both fans of her work.
It was soon apparent that her topic concerned resilience in leadership as much as a retelling of fun stories about Presidents Lincoln, Roosevelt, Roosevelt, and Johnson. For five years she studied these presidents through the lens of leadership skills. In the foreword she says, “Scholars who have studied the development of leaders have situated resilience, the ability to sustain ambition in the face of frustration, at the heart of potential leadership growth.”
The last thing I expected from DKG was reaffirmation for the positive role strong school libraries play in building resilient humans, yet here it was. (Truthfully, the message can be found almost anywhere.) Good fiction consistently models characters who dig deep within themselves to find strength to overcome adversity. Biography and narrative nonfiction often accomplish the same. To paraphrase DKG, “Books reveal human nature. Leaders need to understand human nature.” Effective leaders pull strength from a deep understanding of human nature, whether the times are turbulent or not, and books reveal human nature. This simple message rings true for former presidents, school librarians, or students. Reading builds resilience and helps us sustain ambition in the face of frustration. Best wishes for success and professional fulfillment as we head into a new year of connecting students with books that make a difference.