Examining parenting techniques from different cultures (Parenting Without Borders, Bringing Up Bébé, How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm) is a publishing trend that continues with Serena B. Miller’s More Than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting, providing a fascinating look at this often romanticized community.
Combining the books above with international photos of babies and families would make a terrific library display. Compared to Miller’s leisurely and elegant read is the more nuts-and bolts approach of Tammy Gold’s Secrets of the Nanny Whisperer, which gives parents a flawless procedure manual for hiring and keeping a nanny. Also earning an LJ star is the visually stunning DK offering Watch My Baby Grow. This volume tracks the progress of one infant from birth to one year, delivering charming insight into child development.
Arnold, Johann Christoph. Their Name Is Today: Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World. Plough. 2014. 173p. notes. index. ISBN 9780874866308. pap. $14; ebk. ISBN 9780874866315. CHILD REARING
Christian educator and speaker Arnold is a true advocate for not only children but for childhood itself. Arguing that play defines the essence of childhood, the author explores the negative effects formal education is having on children, concurring with Albert Einstein’s observation that “it is a miracle that curiosity survives education.” While Arnold’s reverence for creativity is a beautiful call to arms, he sometimes uses language and makes inferences that feel over the top, such as agreeing that “socialization among children is becoming extinct.” VERDICT Drawing on quotes and conversations with long-term educators and child advocates, Arnold’s thoughtful worldview approach is inspiring, and his narrative is just what the soul needs. Anyone who works with young children will feel newly encouraged to carry on their important work with gentle, affirming words. Despite the at times alarmist language and conclusions, this title is recommended for its advocacy and graceful manner.
Chitty, Antonia & Victoria Dawson. Sleep and Your Special Needs Child. Robert Hale. Feb. 2015. 160p. ISBN 9780719807916. $22.95. CHILD REARING
Sleep training young children can sometimes be a downright war, but the benefits are worth the struggle. Special-needs children, however, are faced with additional difficulties, requiring different strategies from a parenting perspective. Sleep practitioner and special-needs educator Dawson here provides to those parents a thorough investigation of sleep issues and tools for creating a scheduled and relaxing bedtime. Beginning with describing the importance of sleep, the author makes a strong case for sleep training and supplies charts and graphs for tracking practices that might be leading to problems. She examines everything from daytime activities to the bedroom environment to foods that both promote and inhibit sleep. Children on medication, those with sleep disorders, such as apnea, and more common behaviors such as bed-wetting and sleepwalking all get due analysis. VERDICT Although this British import has the expected UK slant, parents with a special-needs child will appreciate this discovery. Included are many narratives that add to both understanding the topic and giving much-needed support. Recommended.
DK Eds. Watch My Baby Grow: One Baby, One Year, One Extraordinary Project. DK. 2015. 224p. illus. ISBN 9781465429773. $25. CHILD REARING
The DK editors strike gold again with this full-color beauty, described as a “unique pictorial event,” which follows the growth of one newborn over the course of 12 months, incorporating scientific research into the photographic explanations of baby Melisa’s development. In six broad chapters—Photo Journal, Newborn, Senses, Growing and Learning, Communication, and Becoming an Individual”—everything from acquiring better eyesight to taking first steps is explored with colorful sidebars, gorgeous photographs, and charming illustrations. VERDICT This is a truly beautiful book that any new parent would love to own. Its single-subject photographic approach gives depth to understanding infant development. The text has a calm and encouraging tone that celebrates the loveliness of babies and families. A must-have for all public library collections, this is unequivocally recommended.
Fishel, Anne K. Home for Dinner: Mixing Food, Fun, and Conversation for a Happier Family and Healthier Kids. AMACOM. 2015. 240p. notes. index. ISBN 9780814433706. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780814433713. CHILD REARING
The benefits of eating together as a family far exceed good food, and family therapist Fishel here outlines the many reasons why the dedicated family dinner hour should be on everyone’s to-do list. Lower incidences of obesity, substance abuse, and greater academic achievement have all been associated with family meals. Yet overbooked calendars, longer working hours, and organized activities mean many of us are either eating on the run or viewing mealtime as mere fuel. Fishel motivates even the most frazzled reader to prioritize this important time of day with tips for getting the youngest chefs involved, recipes with high nutrition and high reward, story and conversation starters, and much more. VERDICT While the significance of the family dinner hour is not new, Fishel focuses on how therapeutic dinnertime can be. She shares accounts of healing, bonding, and communication when families gather together over a meal. While that topic could have been a book in itself, the author goes beyond and demonstrates solid tools and encouragement for implementation. Recommended with gusto.
Ford, Gina. Good Mother, Bad Mother. Vermillion. 2015. 240p. ISBN 9780091954963. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781448146048. CHILD REARING
The latest from prolific British parenting writer Ford (“Contented Baby” series) gives readers a taste of something new in this poetic consideration of motherhood, both positive and negative. The author writes a tear-jerking introduction about her own mother and goes on to include the voices and experiences of many women, illustrating that we are not alone in our fears and doubts and are rarely as bad as we think we are. She provides a generational viewpoint, and grandmothers, elderly parents, and adult mother-daughter relationships take center stage over the more commonly discussed experiences of first-time parents and the demands of infancy. VERDICT This elegant study supplies both insight and encouragement for women at all stages. Ford’s strengthening voice is welcome. It stands outside of the more logistics-based advice on parenting issues.
Gold, Tammy. Secrets of the Nanny Whisperer: A Practical Guide for Finding and Achieving the Gold Standard of Care for Your Child. Perigee. 2015. 288p. ISBN 9780399169885. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780698157729. CHILD REARING
Nearly gone are the days when father went to work and mother stayed home with the children. More often, both parents are employed outside of the home, with the new “ideal” being the at-home nanny. That, however, is often a complicated undertaking. Therapist and parenting coach Gold presents an excellent resource for families looking to hire a nanny, whether live-in or with specific hours. In Part 1, the author explains the value of the nanny-family match and outlines how to best pursue the nanny relationship for long-term success. Part 2 equips readers with a Family Needs Assessment and the author’s eponymous “Gold Standard” hiring process, including screenings, in-home trials, and background checks. Part 3 focuses on managing the nanny relationship and resolving conflicts. VERDICT While many families view their nanny as a part of the family, Gold reminds readers that this is ultimately an employment relationship. She dispenses exceptional advice that will help families avoid common pitfalls and is especially strong when illustrating scenarios from the nanny’s point of view. From her needs assessment to interview questions to problem-solving language, Gold’s examples and crisp narrative gives readers one-stop shopping for nanny know-how. A required purchase. Well done.
Graves, Emily. How To Be a Good Mommy When You’re Sick: A Guide to Motherhood with Chronic Illness. MSI Pr. Mar. 2015. 210p. ISBN 9781933455891. pap. $14.95. CHILD REARING
Educator Graves was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and experienced near kidney failure soon after the birth of her first child. While balancing her professional career and the never-ending job of motherhood, the author offers tips and support for those with chronic illness. Based on her “foundational five”—do not apologize, do what you can and be happy with it, make good time, be honest, and accept support reject pity—Graves concentrates heavily on her own shortcoming of self-criticism and how that self-defeating behavior affected her ability to parent well given her condition. She encourages readers to realistically evaluate their limitations, celebrate what they can accomplish, and surround themselves with positive individuals. VERDICT Graves is most effective when she delves into topics specific to her own disability, such as compression gear and medication organization. Her advice on accessories, haircuts, and simple recipes lack depth and seem out of place at times. Despite this, there are few books that look into this unique parenting situation, and those who suffer from chronic illness and have young children will appreciate the support provided here. Recommended.
Miller, Serena B. More Than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting. Howard. Feb. 2015. 326p. ISBN 9781476753409. $24; ebk. ISBN 9781476753416. CHILD REARING
Best known for her Amish novels, Miller here returns to her nonfiction roots with a look at the parenting culture of the Amish community and how their simplicity might be leading to happier children. Covering such subjects as early responsibility, raising your own food, living with extended family, and the lack of technology, Miller gives the reader an inquisitive and graceful look at the Amish community and how their values and structure contribute to peaceful families and well-behaved offspring. VERDICT Miller’s book contributes well to the emerging subgenre of investigating parenting styles across cultures. The author has a clear adoration and respect for the Amish community, and her writing style will make readers feel as though they are on a journey along with her. This is less a piece of parenting advocacy than a journalist’s examination of a well-known but somewhat closed community. Readers from many backgrounds will appreciate this leisurely armchair tour that is inspired by curiosity and dignity.
Radin, Stacey. Brave Girls: Raising Young Women with Passion and Purpose To Become Powerful Leaders. Atria. 2015. 274p. ISBN 9781451699302. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781451699326. CHILD REARING
Psychologist and consultant Radin begins her book with some powerful sentiments: “Our society as a whole is lacking opportunities designed to help preadolescent girls feel confident, secure, and emotionally safe.” While such statements are debatable, the author’s effort to guide young girls of middle school age through the minefield of adolescence and come out empowered is certainly a worthy aim. Radin bases her work on her grassroots program called Unleashed, which taps into a common tween interest in animal rescue and expands on the skills of leadership, involvement, and communication, with the hope of leading toward greater confidence. VERDICT Each chapter ends with a “power boost” showing how to further empower young girls. These are, however, at times overwhelming (“You have the power to change our next generation of female change-makers!”) or else unwieldy (“Cultivate budding un-bystanders by creating hypothetical ethical dilemmas and asking girls how they would respond.”) This is an admirable work that could use refinement.
Julianne Smith received her BA in English and her MS in Information from the University of Michigan. She has been a librarian for over 20 years and has been reviewing for LJ for nearly ten. She currently serves as the Acquisitions Manager, Ypsilanti District Library, MI. Parenting consumes much of her time outside of work, and it’s a good thing she writes this column because her twins give her a run for her money on a daily basis