I gave this book five stars because that's how strongly I feel it ought to be widely read. If I were going on strict quality, I'd give it a four, as I...more I gave this book five stars because that's how strongly I feel it ought to be widely read. If I were going on strict quality, I'd give it a four, as I had some direct quibbles with a chapter or two and really felt a few chapters wanted more analysis/organization. And, given that it's written for a lay audience, I didn't always feel that I had enough information to assess how solid the research they chose to focus on was—but at least it wasn't super easy to poke holes in it, which it is for so much of the sensationalistic "studies" reported in the news. And they almost always had several different sets of studies pointing to the same thing.
Overall, however, it was wildly fascinating to read a book about kids/parenting that wasn't a "parenting manual" and wasn't devoted to trying to push a particular ideology. Some of it reinforced my gut instincts/habits and other parts challenged them, and I see that as generally a good sign. Some of it felt very very important—stuff on praise, lying, sleep, race relations, aggression, early learning styles that emphasize developing "executive functioning"—others of it less so (I don't really give a crap when you should test kids for gifted programs or elite private schools, even though the science of brains developing at different speeds and IQ, even for those who set store by it, not being a fixed number, is interesting.)
Surprisingly, also, given the very disparate topics covered, I found the points they drew out in the conclusion to be pretty powerful, especially the point that good traits and bad traits aren't on the same continuum—you can be high on both or low on both—and having good traits (sociability, cheeriness) doesn't protect you from developing bad ones (aggression). Much food for thought. (less)
Incredibly personal look at the internal experience of complex grief and the vagaries of memory. A really neat read, if sad. For all that, the underst...more Incredibly personal look at the internal experience of complex grief and the vagaries of memory. A really neat read, if sad. For all that, the understanding of how the reveal affected the narrator's brother seemed surprisingly simplistic, given how central it was to the plot. (less)
Having spent a decent amount of time following these topics for work, it was still impressive to me how much I had to learn about the details of how t...more Having spent a decent amount of time following these topics for work, it was still impressive to me how much I had to learn about the details of how the real estate market spiraled out of control so badly. Highly recommended.(less)
Since I went in agreeing with Lenore about her basic point, I wasn't expecting a whole lot of revelations. And in a way, I didn't really get any. But...more Since I went in agreeing with Lenore about her basic point, I wasn't expecting a whole lot of revelations. And in a way, I didn't really get any. But it's noteworthy to me that for weeks afterward I was referring to things from the book every other day. That's always a good sign. If you struggle as a parent with feeling overprotective or paranoid about the big bad dangerous world, or know someone who gets on your case if you don't, I recommend it.
I do have a few quibbles: The biggest is that she tries to turn her main point (children need more freedom to do things independently. Actually there isn't someone waiting to snatch them on ever corner) into something much broader (people worry too much. breast milk, formula, who cares?). One can definitely make an argument that pregnant women are given guilt complexes over tiny things, but it's really only tangentially related. And believing kids need more freedom is not the same as believing that all things one does with an infant are equally healthy.
OK. That rant aside, I do wish she'd addressed more often the fact that while yes, gruesome kidnappings are so super rare as to be not worth curtailing a child's freedom over, there is another category of "kinda skeezy interactions" that are more common. It does get addressed in one example, and well, but bore more discussion.
Still, the underlying issue of letting irrational fears drive our parenting, to our children's detriment, is too incredibly important. More important that even she's willing to say really. She's oddly deferential really to parents who want to keep their kids in a bubble (won't if that was a publisher move.) For a stronger argument in that vein, check out In Defense of Childhood.(less)