When heaven is about to confer a great responsibility on any man, it will exercise his mind with suffering, subject his sinews and bones to hard work, expose his body to hunger, put him to poverty, place obstacles in the paths of his deeds, so as to stimulate his mind, harden his nature, and improve wherever he is incompetent.
~MENG TZU (MENCIUS), fourth century BCE1, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Greg Lukianoff, Jonathan Haidt

In the midst of preparing for yet another cross-country move, we find ourselves confronting the slow, deliberate task of editing our possessions. It is during this process that our sons reveal what truly holds meaning for them. The books they have chosen to keep, and the unhurried decision-making that led to these choices, offer a glimpse into their ongoing journey of growing up.

As ninth graders, they made the decision to continue homeschooling this year. Their choice prompted me to reflect on how I can best support them in discovering their capacity to navigate the world in a manner that builds inner strength through a quest for wisdom.

Our journey into homeschooling was not one we initially embraced, but we have since discovered that we are learning and growing with them. We are asking ourselves what intellectual and emotional skills our children need to effectively experience the complexities of the world. How can they harness and share their innate abilities and skills? Equally important, how do we, as parents, cultivate and expand our own skills to guide them?

Amidst these contemplations, I often engage in discussions with other parents and colleagues about our sons' bookshelves. The eclectic collection of books is a blend of their selections and mine. I contribute books that are intended to help them explore specific challenges they may encounter in their lives.

These books also serve as a bridge between us, showing that literature can equip us with the words to express our experiences and help us in finding answers to questions we may not yet have formed.

Rather than dwelling on the challenges of book bans, we want to guide our children toward an exploration of the profound richness of literature at home. Our mission is to help them uncover that the human condition is a vast and often contradictory journey, one that eagerly awaits discovery through the pages of books.

What have you discovered in your journey of collecting of books?

Be well,


P.S. Today, I am introducing you to the Enlightened Shelf newsletter, a place to discover curated selections of books and thought-provoking content to empower parents to nurture the intellectual and emotional growth of their children, while simultaneously fostering their own lifelong learning and self-discovery.

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Kathy Donchak

I am a wife, mom, nature, and book lover living in Central Texas. My work is the garden of my interests. The best way to get to know me is to subscribe to my Sunday Letter.

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