Beyond Parenting for Dummies
June 1, 2010 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Can you recommend any intelligent, insightful, well-written parenting or child development books?

I'm the (stay at home) mother of a happy, healthy, delightful, 17-month old boy. Until now, I've avoided reading parenting books, but lately I've become very interested in what's going on in my son's head. I'm looking for books (or other resources, but mainly books) about toddler/preschooler development. I'm also interested in books about nurturing creativity, toddler activities, and educational philosophies, though I'd be open to other subjects for a really engaging read.

This is what counts for pleasure reading for me, so I'd rather not slog through something too academic or poorly written. I can't stand psuedoscience. I don't have any particular parenting problems to solve, and I'm not looking for something that outlines a single parenting philosophy or technique.

I guess what I'm looking for is a really good book that might give me some insight into my kid.
posted by rebeccabeagle to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Not a book, but a terrific magazine that fits your other perimeters, Brain, Child Magazine.
posted by rumposinc at 9:01 AM on June 1, 2010

With the caveat that they are dated in their language, to some small extent wrt gender, and the discipline parts are mostly best to ignore, if you're looking for insight into development of children at different ages, the "Your X-Year-Old" series by Louise Bates Ames can be very useful. They're quick, short reads, fun and informative. At least, they were helpful to me when my oldest was younger.
posted by not that girl at 9:14 AM on June 1, 2010

It's been a while since my kids were that age, but I really enjoyed Penelope Leach's sensible, patient and loving philosophies on child rearing.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 9:34 AM on June 1, 2010

Your Baby & Child by Penelope Leach helped me raise a smart, balanced kid -- and helped me realize my instincts were 99% right 100% of the time.

I also relied on T. Berry Brazelton and William Sears. NO SPOCK.

My son is 20 now, so these books may be a bit dated, but the advice and knowledge is timeless.

I agree about the Louise Bates Ames books, too. If you know what to expect from a hgrowing child developmentally, it helps make you a better parent.
posted by kidelo at 9:48 AM on June 1, 2010

Man, I love that age. Happiest Toddler on the Block is a really great window into your toddler's growing brain, and helps you as a parent respond to his mounting ideas, frustrations and leaps in knowledge. It's touted as the "tantrum cure," but even if tantrums aren't a big deal yet (just wait!) it'll be good to have a heads up when they start.
posted by zoomorphic at 9:51 AM on June 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

What's Going on in There? : How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life sounds like a perfect match. Based on science and backed up with studies, but accessible and well-written.
posted by seventyfour at 9:52 AM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

I highly recommend any book written by Dr. Stanley Greenspan. In particular, books that speak to the benefits of "floor time." Also you might wish to check out the "Zero to Three" website. It does a great job of breaking out developmental expectations during the first three years of life. By breaking it down into 3 month intervals, I felt like parenting during the early years was more manageable.
posted by ChicagoTherapyConnection at 9:57 AM on June 1, 2010

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child is a fascinating book even if you don't have kids.
posted by selfmedicating at 10:02 AM on June 1, 2010

I came to recommend The Happiest Toddler on the Block as well. I had The Happiest Baby on the Block and it saved my life when my first was a baby, so I naturally "graduated" to his next book. It is mostly strategies for communicating with small children at various ages, and doesn't go too much into the psychological development nuts and bolts, but does hit on that some.

I also like John Rosemond. I take some of his stuff with a grain of salt, but for the most part, I find his approaches to be sensible.

I'll definitely be looking into Penelope Leach now!
posted by wwartorff at 10:18 AM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm currently enjoying NurtureShock. I've heard it described as the Freakonomics of Parenting.

Your Baby & Child by Penelope Leach is a lovely book.
posted by dogsbody at 10:20 AM on June 1, 2010

I really like Becoming the Parent You Want To Be: A Sourcebook of Strategies for the First Five Years, which has helped me calm down after "problems" more than once.

They have a great section on lying. A big deal to parents, many of us are very confused about how to elicit honesty from your children. I think it has a great discussion of the topic. It helped me tremendously to realize that forcing a confrontation is almost always a losing proposition for the parent.
posted by Invoke at 10:25 AM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Our Babies, Ourselves is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read. It's by a biological anthropologist, so it's not exactly a 'parenting book' in the sense of being a guide to parenting, but in my opinion it's a must-read (even for people without kids of their own). One of the reasons I like it so much is that, by showing you the many and varied ways in which children develop in different cultures, it removes a bit of the feeling of "oh jesus christ I am going to break my child if I don't do exactly what I'm supposed to!" (She has a book about older children, too, but I haven't read it.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:30 AM on June 1, 2010

Seconding the Brazelton books, but be aware that he can get a little sappy at times. The information and the science are solid, he's just a little more touch-feely than I'd like.
posted by cooker girl at 12:00 PM on June 1, 2010

I've been reading How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk and even though my boys are only 2.5, I've learned a lot from it. I got it when my kids were about the same age as yours. I definitely recommend checking it out.
posted by pyjammy at 1:49 PM on June 1, 2010

The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life looks well-recommended, and is by a respected developmental psychologist.
posted by parudox at 2:17 PM on June 1, 2010

I really enjoyed Between Parent and Child; it's a classic. It will become more relevant as your child becomes more verbal and independent. I liked it because it really explains why - for instance, praising effort is better than vague praise: "You worked hard to acheive that" vs. "You are so smart." It suddenly put my own childhood into context!

Seconding "What's Going on in There?" That's a great book!
posted by Knowyournuts at 4:10 PM on June 1, 2010

Seconding Nurtureshock.
posted by Nattie at 5:21 PM on June 1, 2010

Thirding Nurtureshock. As a mum of twin sixteen month old girls, I found it just fascinating.
posted by ms.v. at 9:05 AM on June 2, 2010

I just finished Nurtureshock and thought it was great. I also skimmed and enjoyed "Einstein didn't use flashcards" or whichever it's called. great resources. Thanks, askme!
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:30 PM on July 10, 2010

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