Friday, October 12, 2012

Books Read: September

This is a little late: whoops! Also didn't finish any books for most of the month (though Poland is really long, which partly explains that).

September 19th: 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12, Thomas Phelan. This is a pretty well-known book/discipline strategy, so I thought I should check it out. It's a very quick read (took me about an hour), if correspondingly light on content. (There is also a video, which might be a more appropriate format for this.) Despite the title, the promised discipline is really for older children (3 or 4 at a minimum).

This is not a book for anyone interested in child development or psychological growth. It is completely practical and results-oriented. While I haven't used the techniques, I can easily imagine them working well. However, I didn't like the book because it is very behaviorist, like dog training for children. The author has no interest at all in understanding things from the child's point of view, helping them develop self-control, etc. It's simply a way to get your children to obey you better in the short term. Still could be potentially useful, depending on the situation. Grade: C-.

September 22nd: Poland, James Michener. Fascinating historical novel covering 800 years of Polish history, through the stories of three interconnected families at different levels of society (one peasants, one "middle class", and one wealthy nobility). I knew almost nothing about Poland or its history before reading this, so it was a great crash course. Very eye opening (did you know Poland used to dominate most of Eastern Europe? or that they had an early form of democratic government dating from the 16th century?). Now I want to visit! Only weakness: it's rather old and thus ends in the early 1980s, when Poland was still a Communist flunky of the Soviet Union. Grade: A-.

September 30th: Your Successful Preschooler: Ten Skills Children Need to Become Confident and Social, Ann Densmore and Margaret Bauman. I'm not quite sure how to rate this book. It's written by two experts who obviously know what they're talking about, it has some valuable, practical advice about how to improve your toddler/preschooler's social skills, and it's fairly well written. But I found it terribly, terribly dull and could hardly finish it. Maybe I've just read too many books on the subject lately? Grade: C.

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