Gender Identity, Making Veggies Fun, & Other Parenting Titles

A range of parenting titles, from cookbooks to guides to child-rearing "in the age of Trump."

Bauer, Susan Wise. Rethinking School: How To Take Charge of Your Child’s Education. 256p. bibliog. illus. index. Norton. Jan. 2018. Tr $25.95. ISBN 9780393285963.

Bauer, coauthor of The Well-Trained Mind and an advocate for aclassical education through homeschooling, offers a detailed look at how modern schooling can be a mismatch for student’s needs. For those with a disability, a developmental delay, or giftedness, the structure of age-based classes focused on a single way of understanding and behaving may not work. Bauer breaks down ways in which this system is failing these students and offers advice on how to work around it to find better options for students. While Bauer does advocate for ways to help the system accommodate individuals, including having frank discussions with principals and teachers, she also advocates for getting out of it entirely. This bias toward homeschooling influences everything Bauer presents; however, even with this partiality, the balance of firsthand stories of school failure combined with the author’s own experiences and practical tips make this book very straightforward and informative. VERDICT For parents seeking support and advice for ways to address their discontent with their children’s schooling.–Rachel Wadham, Brigham Young University Libraries, Provo, UT

redstarBianchi, Anna. Becoming an Ally to the Gender-Expansive Child: A Guide for Parents and Carers. 240p. Jessica Kingsley. Nov. 2017. pap. $19.95 ISBN 9781785920516.

When author Bianchi’s grandson Ruben was only four years old, his “clarity about his own gender path was apparent to anyone who knew him.” Bianchi, who identifies as cisgender, writes, “My fears, my politics, my prejudice, assumptions and attitudes were all exposed, caught up, spun around and scattered by this experience.” She then understood that she needed to “step down as the all-knowing adult and become an apprentice to life instead.” The heartfelt and open text identifies four keys to becoming an ally to the gender-expansive child: listening, imagination, empathy, and courage. Bianchi walks a graceful path, seamlessly exploring her own experience, that of her grandchild, the politics of society, and the human conditions of fear and love. VERDICT In this powerful offering, the author weaves a combination of biography and parental advice into the important topics of safety, labels, bigotry, and forgiveness. Enthusiastically recommended for growing collections on transgender youth.–Julia M. Reffner, Richmond, VA

redstarElla’s Kitchen: The Easy Family Cookbook. 192p. illus. Octopus/Hamlyn. Aug. 2017. Tr ISBN 9780600631859. $19.99.

In this British import, Ella’s Kitchen founder Paul Lindley (aka “Ella’s Dad”) delivers 100 recipes for the eager muncher. From “bubbly green soup” (pea and leek) to “just-for-one” mini cheesecakes, the recipes are healthy and easy to prepare, use mostly common ingredients, and are big on flavor. Considerations for baby’s age (substitute maple syrup for honey for those under 10 months) are prominently illustrated, and “Just for Fun” sidebars bring the cooking experience into the art realm with activities such as painting dried chick peas. The photos will entice even the most reluctant cook into preparing something nutritious. Additional content includes ideas for “table talk,” a fold-out family meal planner, and making a keepsake tablecloth. Both metric and imperial measurements are given. VERDICT With a heavy-duty binding and wipable pages, this could easily become a household favorite. Highly recommended.–Julia M. Reffner, Richmond, VA

Gallagher, Richard, Elana G. Spira, & Jennifer L. Rosenblatt. The Organized Child: An Effective Program To Maximize Your Kid’s Potential—In School and in Life. 206p. appendix. index. Guilford. Jan. 2018. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781462525911.

According to child psychologists Gallagher, Spira, and Rosenblatt, creators of the Organizational Skills Training (OST) program at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, 15 to 20 percent of children struggle with deficits in organization, time management, and planning behaviors. Help is at hand for parents of children who forget to write down homework assignments, misplace their backpacks, and cram for tests at the last minute in this step-by-step guide to tackling some of the most common challenges. Offering strategies that were successful for students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in the OST program, the authors assert that age seven to 13 is a crucial period in a child’s life, when parents can help prevent bad habits from becoming ingrained. They promote a coaching-role approach for parents, which involves first looking in the mirror at their own example (and correcting). Each chapter provides forms to help parent and child organize, as well as prompts for constructive conversations. VERDICT Chock-full of extras (such as a downloadable appendix), this guide will be valuable for parents who need support in this area.–Julia M. Reffner, Richmond, VA

Potock, Melanie. Adventures in Veggieland: Help Your Kids Learn To Love Vegetables with 100 Easy Activities and Recipes. 288p. index. notes. photos. Experiment. Feb. 2018. pap. $19.95. ISBN 9781615194063.

With more than 20 years’ experience treating babies, toddlers, and school-age children who struggle with eating, feeding therapist Potock (coauthor, Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater) aims to help families gather round the table for healthful food and delightful conversation. Focusing on vegetables, perhaps the most contested food group, the author uses a farm-to-table approach by organizing veggies by season of harvest. Beets, parsnips, asparagus, spinach, bell peppers, kale, and pumpkin are just a few of the favorites that receive their own chapter. Potock starts each section with ways to “expose” or introduce new foods that don’t actually involve eating. Examples include creating beet “tattoos” that come off in the bathtub and playing tic-tac-toe with green beans, giving new meaning to playing with one’s food. The “explore” section features exciting recipes to experience vegetables in a variety of forms, while the “expand” content can be used to build a more adventurous palate once the introduction has been successful. VERDICT Children will enjoy the full-color pictures of young people in the kitchen, and parents will discover fresh ideas for meals with even the pickiest eaters.–Julia M. Reffner, Richmond, VA

Robinson, Ken & Lou Aronica. You, Your Child, and School: Navigate Your Way to the Best Education. 304p. index. notes. Viking. Mar. 2018. Tr $26. ISBN 9780670016723.

Robinson, a highly respected author and lecturer who has tackled many elements of education reform, now directs his attention to parents and other caregivers. It is clear that adults play significant roles in how their children are educated, and Robinson uses this work, coauthored with Aronica, to encourage adults to be active and critical participants. Throughout, Robinson offers sound advice on what counts as a good education and provides practical ways to help make sure any child gets one. The focus on understanding who each child is as an individual and helping them find their own spark of genius is an empowering stance for parents to embrace. Discussions include outlines of adult expectations and children’s needs given in a conversational, approachable tone. While Robinson’s biases toward creative schools and whole-child programs are evident, he offers an honest view of all the options available, giving adults the tools and insight they need to find schooling that is the best fit for each individual child. VERDICT For adults who are looking for ways to use schooling to help their children achieve happy, constructive lives.–Rachel Wadham, Brigham Young University Libraries, Provo, UT

Santomero, Angela. Preschool Clues: Raising Smart, Inspired, and Engaged Kids in a Screen-Filled World. 320p. Touchstone. Mar. 2018. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781501174339; ebk. ISBN 9781501174346.

In Santomero’s first book, the cocreator of award-winning programs such as Blue’s Clues, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood shares the inspiration behind her educational, live-action, animated series, which incorporate both child development and early education principles. Admitting her major influence was Fred Rogers, Santomero gives readers “clues” to help preschoolers thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. She begins with the controversial question of whether screen time should be allowed for preschoolers and argues that, like the best children’s media, parent time with kids should include play, thinking, learning to help others, and laughing, all elements she believes led to the hit success of her programs. Each chapter concludes with “Angela’s Clues,” a succinct section that provides suggestions for implementing the author’s tips. ­VERDICT Fans of Blue’s Clues and Santomero’s other popular children’s shows will enjoy her practical advice and conversational tone. Educators and parents will likely find a takeaway or two in this breezy, informative read.–Julia M. Reffner, Richmond, VA

Siegler, Ava. How Do I Explain This to My Kids?: Parenting in the Age of Trump. 170p. New Pr. Jul. 2017. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781620973561. $15.95.

Parenting titles that offer advice about difficult topics, such as sex, death, or family feuds, are rather common and valuable. A bit rarer is the text that puts parents in the position of explaining the words and behavior of the President of the United States. Nonetheless, many a parent has been trying to do just that since Donald Trump took office. Clinical psychologist and Child magazine columnist Siegler (“Ask Dr. Ava”; What Should I Tell the Kids?) presents essays by writers, professors, and others that address how the president’s proposed policies affect children of various ages (“Trump’s hateful language…speaks in threats that twelve-year-olds understand”) and how public schools are afraid to “hold mock elections in schools because it could lead to bullying.” Part 2 considers specific intimidations and presents a call to action to counter the negative messages. VERDICT Relevant, necessary, and recommended. Public libraries will see a wide readership.–Julia M. Reffner, Richmond, VA

Simmons, Rachel. Enough As She Is: How To Help Girls Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success To Live Healthy, Happy, and Fulfilling Lives. 288p. HarperCollins/Harper. Feb. 2018. Tr $27.99. ISBN 9780062438393.

According to Simmons (Odd Girl Out; The Curse of the Good Girl), founder of the nonprofit Girls Leadership, toxic messages about success and a burning drive to achieve no matter the cost have resulted in a 25 percent increase in already skyrocketing teen depression rates. The author describes how society pushes a “develop confidence” message to young women, which becomes code for yet another area to work on, in an era in which Supergirl is the baseline. At the same time, social media has contributed to teens disconnecting from parents and friendships—those relationships that are the most vital to their growth and resiliency. Meanwhile, parents themselves struggle with myths that tarnish their relationships with their teenager as they come up against a culture that advocates hyperattentive control of all aspects of their child’s life. Here, Simmons interviews 96 girls from a variety of backgrounds to analyze the damaging messages they received (“what you accomplish matters more than what you learn,” “everyone is doing better than you”) and the often destructive results. She encourages strategies to help steady daughters and propel them forward with new messages, while correcting harmful core beliefs along the way. ­VERDICT A fascinating read that provides ideas for combatting the “not enough” ­ideals that are devastating young girls.–­Julia M. Reffner, Richmond, VA

Walker, Bridget Flynn. Anxiety Relief for Kids: On-the-Spot Strategies To Help Your Child Conquer Worry, Panic & Avoidance. 152p. New Harbinger. Nov. 2017. pap. ISBN 9781626259539. pap.

Clinical psychologist Walker, PhD, whose skills are based in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), assists parents in taking a leading role in helping their elementary-aged child overcome anxiety, panic, and obsessions. The author begins by explaining that “children with anxiety disorders often function well in terms of grades, achievement, and more, yet live a tortured internal life rife with worry, fear, or excessive guilt or feelings of responsibility.” Despite doomsday scenarios never coming to realization, children with anxiety are often unable to take away from the situation positive solutions and therefore must learn to identify negative thinking, work to change those thoughts, and then modify specific behaviors. ­VERDICT Although the sample dialogue feels a bit staged, it adeptly illustrates a parent’s role. Those with the confidence and consistency to implement the practices introduced here will find ­Walker’s approach useful.–Julia M. ­Reffner, Richmond, VA

redstarZaske, Sara. Achtung Baby: An American Mom on the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children. 256p. Picador. Jan. 2018. Tr $26. ISBN 9781250160171.

Channeling readers of Pamela ­Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bébé and Alison Gopnik’s The Gardener and the Carpenter, Zaske’s work describes how the author moved from Oregon to Berlin after the birth of her son and, in the midst of the transition, found herself expecting her second child. In comic tones, Zaske shares the thrill and tumult of adjusting to a new culture, vastly different from her expectations. As opposed to the stereotype of strict, overbearing German parent, Zaske found “free-range” was the norm for childhood. In Germany today, children are encouraged to walk to school on their own and talk honestly about the Holocaust and other painful moments in the past. The priority is raising children who are self-reliant, independent, and responsible: a stark contrast, says Zaske, to the results some experts see from American children in the “helicopter” parenting era. From the birth process (in which midwives are the most common attendants) to early childhood (child care is considered a right, and “kita” schools provide playtime instead of the more rigorous American-style education) to elementary school (where topics such as sex, death, and nudity are a part of everyday conversations and outdoor time is enforced daily), Zaske compares American and German parenting culture and gives the U.S. reader inspiration to explore new methods. VERDICT A compelling cultural study that will interest all those who wish to learn about German culture, as well as American parents and educators.–Julia M. Reffner, Richmond, VA

Ziegler, Sheryl. Mommy Burnout: How To Reclaim Your Life and Raise Healthier Children in the Process. 320p. bibliog. Dey St. Feb. 2018. Tr $26.99. ISBN 9780062683687.

Born to a teenage single immigrant mother in New York City and then raised in a blended family in upstate New York, Ziegler, a child psychologist and mother of three, brings a variety of perspectives to the table on the issue of the stresses of modern parenting. The author points out that parents feel more pressure than ever owing to busyness and its resulting isolation, the lack of support networks in a world where extended family is often across state lines instead of next door, social media, and the need to find perfect options for everything from preschool to cloth diapering. Throw in career demands and the constant mobility of the current culture and results can range from emotional to physical maladies that put marriages, health, and children themselves at risk. Ziegler shares case studies from her practice in the beginning of each chapter and includes a fun quiz parents can use to gauge their stress in varying areas. Each chapter also includes a prescription plan designed to fight mommy burnout, including strategies such as compartmentalizing your life, creating emotional boundaries, and adding unstructured time to both your own and your child’s day. VERDICT Mommy burnout is a common buzzphrase, and Ziegler’s book provides a sound resource for anyone struggling in the trenches of parenthood.–Julia M. Reffner, Richmond, VA

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