Let’s hear from our friends: Book Reviews from two of our New Chapters’ partners!

by | Jan 25, 2021 | Education

This month’s blog includes thoughtful book reviews from two community leaders who are actively supporting our New Chapters’ mission to promote reading in the lives of at-risk youth and adults—Braedon Dowty from Harvest Academy Iowa and Chris Andersen from YESS (Youth Emergency Services and Shelter). We thank them for their continued support AND their superb reviewing skills!

Harvest Academy is a 24-month minimum life skills academy for those with criminal backgrounds, substance use challenges, or those who have experienced homelessness that have hit rock bottom and want to change their life. Using peer mentorship and the therapeutic community approach, Harvest Academy focuses on the whole student—helping them gain the insight to improve their attitude, behaviors, and values—while teaching them employable vocational and practical life skills for long-lasting recovery. (Braedon Dowty is the Program Director for this important community life skills academy.) 

Braedon’s Book: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

“I generally like to have a fiction and a nonfiction book going on at the same time—that way if I feel like I’m losing steam in one, I can switch to the other and prevent burnout. I read quite a few books during my time in the therapeutic community in which I participated. There’s a recovery principle of learning from another’s experience and challenging your own fixed views in order to grow, and reading is such a great way to do just that by looking through the lens of an almost endless number of authors and their writings.

“One of my favorite books which I constantly revisit is Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. There’s just so much wisdom packed onto each page! Written by a Roman emperor and philosopher almost two millennia ago, the book is a collection of short meditations on stoicism, or the idea that obstacles and challenges present new opportunities for growth. If I’m struggling, I know I can flip to a random page and have my attitude flipped upside down by a single paragraph. I’m on my fifth or sixth reread right now, and I’ve pretty well accepted I’ll revisit it again and again the rest of my life!”

{Readers, if you would like to assist Harvest Academy this winter, they are always in need of winter clothes and boots!}

YESS provides short-term emergency shelter and crisis care for runaway, homeless, abused, and troubled children ages birth through 17. It also cares for hundreds of children in the community in their own homes, with the same primary goal: keeping kids safe and healthy. Assistance in the midst of family emergencies, interim residential placement, and special counseling are all just a part of how the youth in the greater Des Moines area are served. (Chris Andersen is the YESS Director of Philanthropy & Community Partnerships.) 

Chris’s Book: The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

“I’ve never been a voracious reader but have been envious of those who are. My mind is challenged to be calm long enough as it races through the To-Do lists of work, home, and community commitments. Not one to miss the opportunity to lose myself in the joys of new experiences from books, I have taken to audiobooks with a 45-minute commute to and from work every weekday. My fascination is with biographies, autobiographies, and nonfiction history.

“Most recently, I followed the advice of a friend to explore the writings of David McCullough. I reviewed his titles and was immediately drawn to The Wright Brothers. Growing up in the U.S. Air Force across the globe had a significant impact on my fascination with military air power and air superiority (F-16 Falcon, SR-71 Blackbird, P-51 Mustang, and my jaw-dropping, never-fails-to-bring-a-tear-to-my-eye distinctive gull wings of the F4U Corsair). None of these would be possible without Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, or the sons of Susan Catherine Koerner and Milton Wright. My previous knowledge of these brilliantly fascinating brothers was limited to bits and pieces.

“Wilbur & Orville’s ingenuity, wisdom, and sheer genius jumps from David’s writing. The countless hours spent watching different species of birds in flight. The determination needed to create powered, controlled flight. The lessons learned from those who came before and during the era of the Wright Brother’s invention. The childhoods that molded them to forever change our skies. The book eclipses the dawn of flight and follows the family’s lives until the youngest, Orville, died in 1948. The reverence lauded on the brothers still lasts today and reaches past the skies they explored, as Neil Armstrong took a piece of the first Wright Flier with him as the first man to walk on the moon.”

{Readers, if you would like to assist YESS in their mission to help our youth, Chris has suggested that you check their website for up-to-date and current needs.}

***Thank you, Braedon and Chris! If our readers are like me, your informational and personal book reviews have inspired us all to read these titles and learn even more—SOON!



About New Chapters Libraries

At New Chapters, our collective passion is to inspire a love of books among at-risk youth. We believe that strong reading skills are essential for every child and that a good book can be very therapeutic and offer a ‘vacation’ from the hardships of everyday life.

New Chapters is committed to making a wide variety of current and high-interest books readily available by creating and refurbishing libraries in residential facilities catering to at-risk children. We also conduct programs aimed at fostering a love of books and increasing reading skills.

To learn more, contact us at [email protected]. You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram!


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