Shelf Life - June 12
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Jun 12, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Shelf Life - June 12

Stratford Gazette

You Are Not Special and Other Encouragements

By David McCullough Jr.

@SPL: 158.1 McCu

Two years ago David McCullough was just a high school English teacher giving a commencement speech at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts. It was a nice day, the marching and speeches outside, the students looking very dapper and pleased with themselves, when McCullough said the most remarkable thing to the graduating class: “None of you is special.”

And during the next five minutes of the speech he proved it. Wait, what? But a big purple dinosaur assured this generation they were very special – not special? The speech was filmed, it hit the ‘net like a tidal wave, and subsequently McCullough’s inbox overflowed and his voicemail broke under the weight of the response.

His response to this tidal wave is this little book, which should pop up in every graduate’s gift pile this June. In it McCullough expands on the themes of his speech, including how to school, how to use money, how to be self-aware (Look at Your Fish).

But it appears that McCullough’s aim is not to just hit the 16-17 year olds about to embark on their adult lives, but to get their parents to read a page here and there too. It reads like a manifesto against helicopter parenting and what could be called “entitlement accountability.”

This will offend many but the tone of the book – like the speech - is not one of finger pointing but of acceptance and gentle encouragement, exactly that which the title promises.

McCullough is set to become the Robert Fulghum of a new generation (remember, he’s the “All I Really Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten” guy), someone whose brand of common sense needs to be in print from time to time so we can pick it up when things seem too overwhelming.

Watch the original speech on YouTube, and reserve the book at http://spl.bibliocommons.com under the tag Shelf Life Reviewed.

– Robyn Godfrey, librarian

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