This month’s column presents some unusual additions, plus four notable titles from 2012, to the parenting literature. With books ranging from celebrity tales of infertility to investigative genealogy stories along with a real winner from Steyer on e-safety for digital natives, libraries will want to make room on their shelves. Aside from Steyer, stars are awarded to Edgerton’s belly-laugher on fatherhood and Poelle’s title on biting, which is pretty much a day-care felony. If your biter also happens to be a middle child, then Blair’s book on birth order may just help her find a future career. In the parenting queue for next quarter are titles on middle school drama, homebirth, and more celebrity advice, including one from Steve Schirripa, of The Sopranosfame, whose Mafia-like “Big Daddy” advice includes such statements as “Don’t be such a pussy.” I was laughing by page 3. Until then, please keep your hands, feet, and teeth to yourself. Reader feedback, however, is welcome.
Poelle, Lisa. The Biting Solution: The Expert’s No-Biting Guide for Parents, Caregivers, and Early Childhood Educators. Parenting Pr. 2013. 128p. ISBN 9781936903078. pap. $13.95. CHILD REARING
Biting is perhaps the single worst atrocity of toddlerhood. It brings out primal defense mechanisms in the parents of the victim and horrific shame and sadness in the perp’s family. However, it is a relatively common occurrence that receives little more than a nod in most parenting books. Poelle has a wealth of professional early childhood education experience that she brings to this topic, and here she gives parents and educators a step-by-step look at the biting tendency: what is normal child development, why some children bite, case studies of biters, and forms and worksheets for progressing through the problem. From identifying triggers to recognizing the impact of delayed language skills to working with both sets of parents, Poelle provides a wealth of practical, informative advice covering everything from developing empathy to soothing a hurt and frustrated child. VERDICT Child-care workers, parents, and colleges and universities with early childhood development programs will all benefit from this text. A timely and underrepresented contribution to the literature. Poelle should be commended for providing solid solutions to what feels like the “crime of the century” in parenting. Earnestly recommended.
Edgerton, Clyde. Papadaddy’s Book for New Fathers: Advice to Dads of All Ages. Little, Brown. May 2013. 192p. ISBN 9780316056922. $24.99. CHILD REARING
Edgerton, known for his acclaimed novels such as Night Train and The Bible Salesman, is also the father of four children, ranging from age five to 30. At 68 years young, he has learned a few things about raising kids, and he here shares tips and his delightful sense of humor with fathers along all stages of the journey. Accompanied by illustrations from Daniel Wallace, this slim gem offers laugh-out-loud advice on every page (“One of your cousins or a brother or a sister-in-law will eventually inspect the installation of the [car] seat and will get very upset because it’s too loose or not hooked up right, and they will call the authorities. This relative will be a vegetarian.”). VERDICT Edgerton is so, so funny. He captures the rainbows, cheap thrills, and irritating potholes of parenting with splendid understatement. Interspersed throughout, however, are solid statements that take the mystery out of parenting and remind readers that all will be well (“If you are a good person, you will probably be a good father”). For lovers of Bill Cosby and Erma Bombeck and for ticklish parents everywhere. Fantastic stuff.
Steyer, James P. Talking Back to Facebook: The Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age.Scribner. 2012. 224p. ISBN 9781451657340. pap. $15. CHILD REARING
Steyer (founder and CEO, Common Sense Media, Stanford), a lawyer, and former teacher, here offers parents and educators a diamond of a book on media smarts. He begins by examining how technology affects a growing child’s brain (“mental brownouts”), the relationship problems that are exploited by e-communication, how the “impulse-enabling nature of social media platforms, coupled with the vulnerable and inexperienced social and emotional development of many young people, can be combustible,” and the alarming loss of privacy for digital natives. However, the text is never “anti-tech,” and he dedicates an entire chapter to the positive impacts technology can have on children and society at large. The second part of the book is dedicated to nuts-and-bolts guidelines for parents, such as how to decide which games are okay for kids, at what age children should get a cell phone, and whether Facebook is really safe for teens. VERDICTSteyer’s call to arms for privacy law reform and regulatory oversight should be heeded like the Rapture (“The last time we seriously examined our nation’s privacy laws , Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was still in grade school, and YouTube, text messaging, and Twitter didn’t exist.”). With Facebook’s history of privacy abuse becoming the equivalent of Wal-Mart customer service, anyone with an online footprint should take note. This is essential reading, full of sound, fair, and forward-thinking advice. Required.
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The following titles are reviewed in the February 1 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Blair, Linda. Birth Order: What Your Position in the Family Really Tells You About Your Character. Piatkus.2013. 193p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780749940140. pap. $13.95. CHILD REARING
Cabrera, Dena & Emily T. Wierenga. Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty, and Life After Pregnancy.Rowman & Littlefield. May 2013. 216p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781442218659. $27. CHILD REARING
Companions in Wonder: Children and Adults Exploring Nature Together. MIT. 2013. 344p. ed. by Julie Dunlap & Steven R. Kellert. ISBN 9780262516907. $21.95. CHILD REARING
Dorfman, Lawrence. The Snark Handbook: Parenting Edition. Skyhorse, dist. by Norton. 2013. 240p. ISBN 9781620877845. pap. $12.95. CHILD REARING
Friedman, Caitlin & Andrew Friedman. Family Inc.: Office-Inspired Solutions To Reduce the Chaos in Your Home (and Save Your Sanity!). Penguin. 2013. 295p. ISBN 9781585429424. pap. $15.95. CHILD REARING
Gross, Gretchen & Patricia Livingston. But Dad! A Survival Guide for Single Fathers of Tween and Teen Daughters. Rowman & Littlefield. 2013. 192p. ISBN 9781442212671. pap. $17.95. CHILD REARING
Klein, Allen. Mom’s the Word: The Wit, Wisdom and Wonder of Motherhood. Viva Editions. Jun. 2013. 224p.ISBN 9781936740420. pap. $14.95. CHILD REARING
Leving, Jeffery M. How To Be a Good Divorced Dad: Being the Best Parent You Can Be Before, During, and After the Break-up. Jossey-Bass. 2012. 180p. ISBN 9781118114100. pap. $16.95. CHILD REARING
McCue, Kathleen F. Mother to Mother Honest Advice from Women Who Have Been Through It Already. Hale House. 2012. 252p. ISBN 9780984774616. $24.80. CHILD REARING
Rohm, Elisabeth & Eve Adamson. Baby Steps: Having the Child I Always Wanted (Just Not as I Expected). Da Capo. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9780738216638. $24.99. CHILD REARING
Slaton, Pamela & Samantha Marshall . Reunited: An Investigative Genealogist Unlocks Some of Life’s Greatest Family Mysteries. Griffin: St. Martin’s. 2012. 256p. ISBN 9780312617325. pap. $14.99. CHILD REARING
Smokler, Jill. Motherhood Comes Naturally (and Other Vicious Lies): Confessions of a Scary Mommy. Gallery Bks: S. & S. 2013. 138p. ISBN 9781476728346. pap. $15. CHILD REARING