• We love books, especially ones that reveal the world from the child’s point of view. Whether important or interesting, The Bookshelf aims to highlight the best of the offerings on subjects of interest to those passionate about children. As a service to you, we’ve linked the books we cover directly to Amazon.

  • American Parents Can Chill Out Now!

    CWA_Member_reviewed

    These two books consider the presumably typical U.S. parent, frantic, overly engaged, and anxious, from a cross-cultural perspective.

    The Happiest Kids in the World is a first-person account by two mothers married to Dutchmen. The authors are amazed to discover that the ways they were raised—in the U.K. and the U.S.—are not the only ways to bring up happy, independent, and healthy children. They also discover that raising children need not be as exhausting as many parents experience it to be.

    The second book, Do Parents Matter?, should actually be titled Do Parenting Styles Matter? Robert A. and Sarah LeVine, a husband and wife research team, take an ethnographic view of parenting. In their brief world tour, they share facts such as these:

    • While middle-class American parents agonize about whether to leave their children in day care, many Hausa mothers in Nigeria follow a code of kin avoidance that, among other things, requires evading eye contact with their babies and older offspring. Further, after being weaned at 2 years of age, Hausa toddlers are sent off to live with relatives until the age of 15, at which time they are reunited with their parents.
    • In Kenya, Gusii parents react warmly to their babies’ cries of distress but do not respond to infant vocalizations, believing that there is little point in speaking to a baby who cannot talk.
    • Many American parents are encouraged to place a newborn in a separate room as soon as possible in order to encourage independence. As a result, exhausted parents may be trekking in and out of the baby’s room for months, until the baby “sleeps through the night,” however that may be defined. Rural people in Asia, Africa, and Latin America and most parents in Japan co-sleep with their children for months and years, with everyone, young and old, getting a better night’s sleep.

    And consider a European country, the Netherlands, where parents are less frantic and pressed than American parents.

    • In 2013 UNICEF declared Dutch children to have the highest level of well-being among children of 29 nations (U.S. kids ranked 26th). Measures considered included material well-being, health and safety, education, behaviors and risks, and housing and environment.
    • Research shows that children in the Netherlands are happier than their American counterparts. According to Acosta and Hutchison, they get more sleep, are allowed more freedom and unsupervised play, enjoy regular family meals, are heard by their parents, are subject to little academic stress, and are content with simple playthings.

    It is heartening to find out from such disparate sources that there is a range of acceptable child-rearing styles shaped by the social and economic environments in which families live. In the Netherlands, a country whose economic system is similar to that of the U.S., children achieve good mental health with less exhausting, more laid back parenting approaches.

    There is an important caveat. Government policies supporting parents are different in the Netherlands and the U.S. The U.S. is the world’s only advanced country that does not mandate paid leave time for its workers, so a quarter of American workers get no paid time off to spend with family. Mothers who give birth in the Netherlands are entitled to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave. By contrast U.S. employers are not required to pay employees during maternity leave. There are many Americans who, facing economic pressure, return to their jobs immediately after the birth of a child. If large numbers of American parents wanted to pursue a less pressured form of parenting, government policies might need tweaking.

    A small quibble with both titles: While parental behaviors are well documented, the effects on the children are often known only in an impressionistic and general way. Dutch children are described as exuberant, African children as compliant, but are all African children like the groups the LeVines depict? Are all Dutch children similar?

    Because they broaden our scope on parenting, both books are highly recommended. A tip: The Happiest Kids in the World is more readable but less scientific than Do Parents Matter?


    Do Parents Matter? Why Japanese Babies Sleep Soundly, Mexican Siblings Don’t Fight, and American Families Should Just Relax

    Do Parents Matter?: Why Japanese Babies Sleep Soundly, Mexican Siblings Don’t Fight, and American Families Should Just Relax (Hardcover)


    By (author): Robert A. LeVine, Sarah LeVine

    When it comes to parenting, more isn’t always better-but it is always more tiring

    In Japan, a boy sleeps in his parents’ bed until age ten, but still shows independence in all other areas of his life. In rural India, toilet training begins one month after infants are born and is accomplished with little fanfare. In Paris, parents limit the amount of agency they give their toddlers. In America, parents grant them ever more choices, independence, and attention.

    Given our approach to parenting, is it any surprise that American parents are too frequently exhausted?

    Over the course of nearly fifty years, Robert and Sarah LeVine have conducted a groundbreaking, worldwide study of how families work. They have consistently found that children can be happy and healthy in a wide variety of conditions, not just the effort-intensive, cautious environment so many American parents drive themselves crazy trying to create. While there is always another news article or scientific fad proclaiming the importance of some factor or other, it’s easy to miss the bigger picture: that children are smarter, more resilient, and more independent than we give them credit for.

    Do Parents Matter? is an eye-opening look at the world of human nurture, one with profound lessons for the way we think about our families.

    List Price: $25.99 USD
    New From: $7.65 USD In Stock
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    The Happiest Kids in the World: How Dutch Parents Help Their Kids by Doing Less

    The Happiest Kids in the World: How Dutch Parents Help Their Kids (and Themselves) by Doing Less (Paperback)


    Features: EXPERIMENT
    By (author): Rina Mae Acosta, Michele Hutchison

    Discover how Dutch parents raise The Happiest Kids in the World!

    Calling all stressed-out parents: Relax! Imagine a place where young children play unsupervised, don’t do homework, have few scheduled “activities” . . . and rank #1 worldwide in happiness and education. It’s not a fantasy—it’s the Netherlands!

    Rina Mae Acosta and Michele Hutchison—an American and a Brit, both married to Dutchmen and raising their kids in the Netherlands—report back on what makes Dutch kids so happy and well adjusted. Is it that dads take workdays off to help out? Chocolate sprinkles for breakfast? Bicycling everywhere?

    Whatever the secret, entire Dutch families reap the benefits, from babies (who sleep 15 hours a day) to parents (who enjoy a work-life balance most Americans only dream of). As Acosta and Hutchison borrow ever-more wisdom from their Dutch neighbors, this much becomes clear: Sometimes the best thing we can do as parents is . . . less!
    List Price: $15.95 USD
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    Everyday Desistance: The Transition to Adulthood Among Formerly Incarcerated Youth (Critical Issues in Crime and Society)

     

    Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why (Hardcover)


    Features: Houghton Mifflin
    By (author): Paul Tough

    In How Children Succeed, Paul Tough introduced us to research showing that personal qualities like perseverance, self-control, and conscientiousness play a critical role in children’s success.
     
    Now, in Helping Children Succeed, Tough takes on a new set of pressing questions: What does growing up in poverty do to children’s mental and physical development? How does adversity at home affect their success in the classroom, from preschool to high school? And what practical steps can the adults who are responsible for them—from parents and teachers to policy makers and philanthropists—take to improve their chances for a positive future?
     
    Tough once again encourages us to think in a brand new way about the challenges of childhood. Rather than trying to “teach” skills like grit and self-control, he argues, we should focus instead on creating the kinds of environments, both at home and at school, in which those qualities are most likely to flourish. Mining the latest research in psychology and neuroscience, Tough provides us with insights and strategies for a new approach to childhood adversity, one designed to help many more children succeed.
    List Price: $18.99 USD
    New From: $9.94 USD In Stock
    Used from: $3.25 USD In Stock

     

    Book Smart: How to Develop and Support Successful, Motivated Readers

     

    Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why (Hardcover)


    Features: Houghton Mifflin
    By (author): Paul Tough

    In How Children Succeed, Paul Tough introduced us to research showing that personal qualities like perseverance, self-control, and conscientiousness play a critical role in children’s success.
     
    Now, in Helping Children Succeed, Tough takes on a new set of pressing questions: What does growing up in poverty do to children’s mental and physical development? How does adversity at home affect their success in the classroom, from preschool to high school? And what practical steps can the adults who are responsible for them—from parents and teachers to policy makers and philanthropists—take to improve their chances for a positive future?
     
    Tough once again encourages us to think in a brand new way about the challenges of childhood. Rather than trying to “teach” skills like grit and self-control, he argues, we should focus instead on creating the kinds of environments, both at home and at school, in which those qualities are most likely to flourish. Mining the latest research in psychology and neuroscience, Tough provides us with insights and strategies for a new approach to childhood adversity, one designed to help many more children succeed.
    List Price: $18.99 USD
    New From: $9.94 USD In Stock
    Used from: $3.25 USD In Stock

     

    The Vaccine-Friendly Plan: Dr. Paul’s Safe and Effective Approach to Immunity and Health-from Pregnancy Through Your Child’s Teen Years

     

    The Vaccine-Friendly Plan: Dr. Paul's Safe and Effective Approach to Immunity and Health-from Pregnancy Through Your Child's Teen Years (Paperback)


    Features: Ballantine Books
    By (author): Paul Thomas M.D., Jennifer Margulis

    An accessible and reassuring guide to childhood health and immunity from a pediatrician who’s both knowledgeable about the latest scientific research and respectful of a family’s risk factors, health history, and concerns

    In The Vaccine-Friendly Plan, Paul Thomas, M.D., presents his proven approach to building immunity: a new protocol that limits a child’s exposure to aluminum, mercury, and other neurotoxins while building overall good health. Based on the results from his pediatric practice of more than eleven thousand children, as well as data from other credible and scientifically minded medical doctors, Dr. Paul’s vaccine-friendly protocol gives readers

    • recommendations for a healthy pregnancy and childbirth
    • vital information about what to expect at every well child visit from birth through adolescence
    • a slower, evidence-based vaccine schedule that calls for only one aluminum-containing shot at a time
    • important questions to ask about your child’s first few weeks, first years, and beyond
    • advice about how to talk to health care providers when you have concerns
    • the risks associated with opting out of vaccinations
    • a practical approach to common illnesses throughout the school years
    • simple tips and tricks for healthy eating and toxin-free living at any age

    The Vaccine-Friendly Plan presents a new standard for pediatric care, giving parents peace of mind in raising happy, healthy children.

    Praise for The Vaccine-Friendly Plan

    “Finally, a book about vaccines that respects parents! If you choose only one book to read on the topic, read The Vaccine-Friendly Plan. This impeccably researched, well-balanced book puts you in the driver’s seat and empowers you to make conscientious vaccine decisions for your family.”—Peggy O’Mara, editor and publisher, Mothering Magazine 

    “Sure to appeal to readers of all kinds as a friendly, no-nonsense book that cuts through the rhetoric surrounding vaccines. It offers validation to those who avoid some or all, while offering those who do want to vaccinate help on how to do so safely. This is a great book for anyone with children in their lives.”Natural Mother

    “A valuable, science-supported guide to optimizing your child’s health while you navigate through complex choices in a toxic, challenging world.”—Martha Herbert, M.D., Ph.D., Harvard Medical School

    “An impressively researched guide, this important book is essential reading for parents. With clear and practical advice for shielding children from harmful toxins, it will compel us all to think differently about how to protect health.”—Jay Gordon, M.D., FAAP

    “Rather than a one-size-fits-all vaccine strategy, the authors suggest thoughtful, individualized decisions based on research and collaboration between parents and clinicians—a plan to optimize a child’s immune system and minimize any risks.”—Elizabeth Mumper, M.D., founder and CEO, The Rimland Center for Integrative Pediatrics

    “This well-written and thought-provoking book will encourage parents to think through decisions—such as food choices and the timing of vaccines—that affect the well-being of their children. In a world where children’s immune systems are increasingly challenged, this is a timely addition to the literature.”—Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., bestselling author of The Dance of Anger and The Mother Dance

    List Price: $18.00 USD
    New From: $12.23 USD In Stock
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    Poor Students, Rich Teaching: Mindsets for Change (Raising Achievement for Youth at Risk)

     

    Poor Students, Rich Teaching: Mindsets for Change (Raising Achievement for Youth at Risk) (Perfect Paperback)


    By (author): Eric Jensen

    First book in a two-book series

    Growing up with his share of adversity, Eric Jensen knows firsthand the importance of rich teaching for economically disadvantaged students. In his book, Poor Students, Rich Teaching: Mindsets for Change, discover practical and research-based strategies to ensure all students, regardless of circumstance, are college and career ready. This thorough resource details the necessary but difficult work that teachers must do to establish the foundational changes essential to positively impact students from low-income families. Organized tools and resources are provided to help teachers effectively implement these essential changes. Access the complete resources by pairing this resource with its companion, Poor Student, Richer Teaching.

    Benefits

    • Understand the urgency of poverty in the United States.
    • Gain four powerful mindsets to bring change.
    • Build effective relationships with students, and help them see achievement as a reachable target.
    • Create a welcoming classroom climate where all students love to learn and are engaged for success.

      • Contents
        1 Why Should You Care About Poverty?
        2 Why Should You Embrace Change?
        3 Secrets of the Relational Mindset
        4 Personalize the Learning
        5 Connect Everyone for Success
        6 Show Empathy
        7 Lock in the Relational Mindset
        8 Secrets of the Achievement Mindset
        9 Set Gutsy Goals
        10 Have the Right Attitude
        11 Give Fabulous Feedback
        12 Persist With Grit
        13 Lock in the Achievement Mindset
        14 Secrets of the Rich Classroom Climate Mindset
        15 Engage Voice and Vision
        16 Set Safe Classroom Norms
        17 Foster Academic Optimism
        18 Lock in the Rich Classroom Climate Mindset
        19 Secrets of the Engagement Mindset
        20 Engage for Maintenance and Stress
        21 Engage for Setup and Buy-In
        22 Engage to Build Community
        23 Lock in the Engagement Mindset
        Appendix: Resources for Getting Started

    List Price: $34.95 USD
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    Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why, by Paul Tough

     

    Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why (Hardcover)


    Features: Houghton Mifflin
    By (author): Paul Tough

    In How Children Succeed, Paul Tough introduced us to research showing that personal qualities like perseverance, self-control, and conscientiousness play a critical role in children’s success.
     
    Now, in Helping Children Succeed, Tough takes on a new set of pressing questions: What does growing up in poverty do to children’s mental and physical development? How does adversity at home affect their success in the classroom, from preschool to high school? And what practical steps can the adults who are responsible for them—from parents and teachers to policy makers and philanthropists—take to improve their chances for a positive future?
     
    Tough once again encourages us to think in a brand new way about the challenges of childhood. Rather than trying to “teach” skills like grit and self-control, he argues, we should focus instead on creating the kinds of environments, both at home and at school, in which those qualities are most likely to flourish. Mining the latest research in psychology and neuroscience, Tough provides us with insights and strategies for a new approach to childhood adversity, one designed to help many more children succeed.
    List Price: $18.99 USD
    New From: $9.94 USD In Stock
    Used from: $3.25 USD In Stock

     

    Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men, by Leonard Sax

     

    Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men (Paperback)


    Features: Boys Adrift The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men
    By (author): Leonard Sax

    Something scary is happening to boys today. From kindergarten to college, American boys are, on average, less resilient and less ambitious than they were a mere twenty years ago. The gender gap in college attendance and graduation rates has widened dramatically. While Emily is working hard at school and getting A's, her brother Justin is goofing off. He's more concerned about getting to the next level in his videogame than about finishing his homework. Now, Dr. Leonard Sax delves into the scientific literature and draws on more than twenty years of clinical experience to explain why boys and young men are failing in school and disengaged at home. He shows how social, cultural, and biological factors have created an environment that is literally toxic to boys. He also presents practical solutions, sharing strategies which educators have found effective in re-engaging these boys at school, as well as handy tips for parents about everything from homework, to videogames, to medication.
    List Price: $16.99 USD
    New From: $8.00 USD In Stock
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