Life with a Special-Needs Child, First Dads, Early Literacy, Teen Talk | Parenting Reviews, February 15, 2016

advice for all ages In this go-round of reviews of the child-rearing literature, we get a glimpse into the diverse parenting styles of U.S. presidents, life with a special-needs child, and new approaches to language development in children with cleft lip and palate. Also featured are helpful and practical tips for teens to communicate better, Nihara K. Choudhri’s Preparing for Baby, which offers a crash course in all things financial and legal, and an exquisite Baby Book from publisher DK. Finally, parents will be inspired to count to three and meet the challenge of public meltdowns head-on with the help of Thomas W. Phelan’s tried-and-true counsel on discipline.

The Baby Book. rev. ed. DK. 2016. 320p. illus. index. ISBN 9781465444783. pap. $24.95. CHILD REARING

Known for visually stunning offerings, publisher DK here provides soon-to-be parents an elegant and comforting ­approach to self- and baby care during pregnancy through age three. Arranged by trimester, followed by birth, and then developmental ages (zero–six months, six–12 months, etc.), this revised edition ­delivers supportive advice for making sound decisions and understanding the context of medical recommendations. Everything from water consumption to choosing a nursing bra prepares mother for bringing baby home, while suggestions for sleep training and when to begin solid foods ensures that both infant and parents have all the right tools and time lines for a gentle and loving start. VERDICT While books on this subject are abundant, readers will be naturally drawn to the warm style and sheer beauty of the DK titles. Libraries can’t go wrong with this acquisition.

redstarBurk, Kari (text & illus.). Snapshot of a Soul Place in the Land of Special Needs. Grand PooBah Music. Mar. 2016. 91p. ISBN 9780994799401. $34.95. memoir

snapshotofasoul.jpg2116In 1990 the author gave birth to baby ­Mielle, who was born with Down syndrome. Mielle is now 25, and her mother shares a wealth of knowledge and experience with readers, writing that “Perhaps the greatest obstacle faced by a person with special needs is being misunderstood and in turn, isolated, from life’s processes and events.” She relates this “story of growing up with a person with Down syndrome, told in painting, drawing, poetry, photography and prose.” VERDICT Capturing the heartache of ongoing medical procedures and the beauty of milestones and joys, this account gives an emotionally moving and hopeful glimpse into life with a special-needs child. Beautifully presented, lovingly told, and gracefully realized, this volume will offer parents of special-needs children a sense of community and comfort. Unequivocally recommended.

Choudhri, Nihara K. Preparing for Baby: All the Legal, Financial, Tax, and Insurance Information New and Expectant Parents Need. American Bar Assn. 2016. 320p. illus. index. ISBN 9781634251877. pap. $19.95. CHILD REARING

Many “preparing for baby” books give snippets of information on money concerns and maternity leave, but this title from Choudhri (What To Do Before “I Do”) is like getting a crash course in all matters legal and financial. Beginning with a discussion on workplace rights and establishing baby’s identity, the ­author moves on to such topics as hiring a nanny, education savings plans, life and disability insurance, tax breaks for new parents, and wills and estate planning. She covers both the major questions, such as: “How much should I save for college?” and detailed queries, “Is there a statute of limitations on the IRS’s ability to recover back-taxes for paying my nanny off the books?” VERDICT Clearly this work is for those parents above a certain income bracket, but savvy planners will appreciate the legal advice. With statues varying by state and constantly changing with the tax code, librarians will need to watch this one for longevity. Purchase for demand.

Hardin-Jones, Mary A. & others. Children with Cleft Lip and Palate: A Parents’ Guide to Early Speech-Language Development and Treatment. Woodbine House. 2016. 200p. illus. index. ISBN 9781606132104. pap. $21.95.

Clinicians Hardin-Jones, Kathy L. ­Chapman, and Nancy J. Scherer offer parents of children with cleft lip or palate a helpful and readable work on how cleft palate influences early speech-language development and ways to stimulate the same. Estimates are that one in every 600–700 births have cleft palate and that 70 percent of these children will require speech therapy at some point during toddlerhood, preschool, or school-age years. In chapters arranged by age, the text ­begins by ­addressing early concerns, such as feeding and ear infections, and then delves into issues that might come up later, including surgery and dental care. As baby begins vocalizing, specific tips and routines are shared with parents to invigorate the progress of speech. ­VERDICT While cleft palate is one of the more common birth defects, its implications for language development are significant. This accessible, research-based guide is recommended for all parenting collections.

Kendall, Joshua C. First Dads: Parenting and Politics from George Washington to Barack Obama. Grand Central. May 2016. 400p. ISBN 9781455551958. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781455551965. biog

In this fascinating title, award-winning journalist Kendall gives a new flavor to the presidential biography with a look at fatherhood as experienced by the White House residents. Divided into chapters such as ­“Tiger Dads” and “The Grief Stricken,” it groups presidents by parenting styles, giving new insight into their already rich lives. Jimmy Carter, for example, rarely spent time at home when his children were young and was an “autocratic head of household” who “held the expectation that those junior to me would honor my commands.” In contrast, Gerald Ford falls under the nurturing category, while James Garfield supposedly delighted in jumping on the bed with his kids. VERDICT This inspiring title is likely to appeal to many different readers. History buffs, U.S. presidential scholars, and Dad on Father’s Day will all relish this walk though time and the shared experience of parenting.

redstarPhelan, Thomas W. 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2–12. Sourcebooks. Feb. 2016. 288p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781492629887. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781492629894. CHILD REARING

123magic.jpg2116In this updated edition of best-selling author Phelan’s classic 1-2-3 program, the author retains the charming humor, realistic scenarios, poignant cartoons, and spot-on dialog of the previous editions. Parents will find the support, reasoning, and tools they need to change the most irritating behaviors kids throw at them. From solutions to whining, sibling rivalry, badgering, and temper tantrums to refusing to do chores or melting down in public, Phelan’s method has a proven track record of ending the negotiations and getting kids back on track. Any parent can count to three…the challenge of course will be for them to use the plan consistently and without emotional feedback. VERDICT ­Phelan’s 1-2-3 is the gold standard of child discipline for good reason. All libraries should update to the new edition and purchase in sufficient quantities.

Skeen, Michelle & others. Communication Skills for Teens: How To Listen, Express, & Connect for Success. New Harbinger. (Instant Help Solutions). 2016. 208p. ISBN 9781626252639. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781626252653. CHILD REARING

Parents have long lamented how difficult it can be to communicate with their teenager, but consider that teens, too, struggle with communication, and not just with Mom and Dad. With social media now the primary means for connecting with one’s peers, ­face-to-face conversation skills are becoming less used and thus less refined among digital natives. As a result, many young adults feel insecure in their ability to engage and exchange ideas and are often flummoxed by messages they did not mean to send. Therapist Skeen, professor ­Matthew McKay, mental health writer Patrick Fanning, and college student Kelly Skeen offer older teens a targeted version of their everyday text messages, which covers such skills as assertiveness, active listening, and compassion. ­VERDICT Kelly Skeen plays a prominent role in this ­title, providing an inside look into where and why, when it comes to conversing, young people encounter difficulty. Recommended for high schoolers through adult.

Waggoner, Cathy & Martha Herndon. Starting with Character: Activities for Infants, Toddlers, and Twos. Redleaf. 2016. 134p. bibliog. ISBN 9781605544472. pap. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781605544489. CHILD REARING

According to the authors, both educators, previous research proposed that young babies and toddlers were too egocentric to understand another person’s perspective. However, new approaches appreciate the enormous capacity for learning that happens in these early years and argue that even the youngest ones have a significant ability for moral learning. ­Waggoner and Herndon explore how character is shaped through children’s interactions with others, particularly primary caregivers, and focus their activities on six qualities typically associated with a strong spirit: caring, honesty, integrity, respect, responsibility, and self-discipline. With a healthy acknowledgment of child-development stages and limitations, the authors present activities such as peekaboo and tummy time for babies, followed by games such as “pillow walking” and “feeding the monster” for toddlers and two-year-olds. An alphabetical list of the games accompanied by recommended reading concludes this absorbing and informative offering. VERDICT Recommended for early literacy collections.

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 an LJ reviewer for nearly ten. She currently serves as Assistant Director, 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

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