Wednesday, December 21, 2016

NurtureShock: New Thinking about Children -- Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman ---------------- 4.5 Stars

NurtureShock has been on my "to read" list for a few years now, and I'm very happy to have finally picked it up.  For some reason, the title scared me off a bit, and I thought it was a book about going up now and how "shocking" it is for kids. Rather, the book was sort of a Freakonomics meets child rearing, and I enjoyed it immensely.

The basic set up of the book is to cover, in multiple chapters, a variety of cutting edge and recent research about educating kids. How they learn, what helps them/what doesn't, etc. The first chapter, which is about how/when to use praise with kids, is fantastic. In fact, I think the authors writing on this subject (which included a focus of my favorite, grit), was published in the New York times to much acclaim. My guess is they got great feedback about the subject matter and discoveries so they decided to do some more research on other areas and make a book. The other chapters vary in their usefulness and holding the reader's interest, but the majority of them are quite interesting and I learned a great deal from the book. Some of the other subjects the book takes on are: the importance of sleep, why kids lie, why parents don't talk about race, why teens rebel, and many others. In fact, I was able to learn something new from nearly every chapter I read.

What made this book so enjoyable to me is a few things.  First, the writing style is clear, concise and easy to keep up with. Second, the stories that are used to illuminate a point being made are interesting and varied. Third, the book was based in research findings and data, and while the authors are certainly trying to make subjective points with the data, they can back up a lot of it. Finally, as the book applies to two important things in my life, my job and my kids, I was keenly connected and interested in nearly every view they argued.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with any interest in kids. Although it does have a bit of an education bent and focus, any parent could learn valuable information from this text and, because the stories and writing styles are so accessible, I think many will enjoy. I know I did!

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