Categorized as: Parenting

GIVEAWAY for “Girls, Uninterrupted: Steps for Building Stronger Girls in a Challenging World”

I’d like to introduce my friend and colleague from across the pond, Tanith Carey. Tanith is an award-winning journalist and author who lives in London with her husband and two daughters. Tanith writes for a variety of publications across the world, including The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The New Statesman and The Huffington Post, among others. She has also written seven books. Tanith’s Amazon best-selling book, Girls, Uninterrupted, published in March 2015, looks at the steps parents can take to build stronger girls in a challenging world.

I asked Tanith for a blog post to accompany a giveaway on the Her Next Chapter Facebook page for one signed copy of her new book, and here it is:

Tanith's book coverAs the mother of two daughters, I know that my girls are not weak and defenseless – and neither are yours. But I also recognize that in a world where, by the time they are 16, half of girls want surgery to change the way they look, they also need help to work out why they feel this way.

Modern life may be evolving at breakneck speed, but our children still need to go through the same developmental milestones they always did to grow into emotionally healthy adults.

Girls, in particular, need parents to show them how to push back against some of the unhealthy messages in today’s culture concerning what’s most important about them and how they should look. The pace of change, powered by constantly evolving technology, is so fast, and the implication for our girls’ mental health so serious, that we can not simply hope to fire-fight problems as they crop up—whether it’s body self-hatred, anxiety and depression, or self-harm.

Of course, when I had my two daughters, Lily, 13, and Clio, 10, I assumed, at first, that these influences wouldn’t affect my girls. I imagined that if I didn’t mention the word diet around my daughters then they wouldn’t get the body image hang-ups that so many young girls are beset with these days from an increasingly early age. But I quickly had to wake up to the fact that no matter how many towels I pressed against the doorframe, I could not keep these messages out of my home.

Whether we like it or not, my girls—and yours—are growing up in playgrounds where the most feared insult is the word “fat.” The dolls being marketed to them come with cleavages—while their pop idols behave like porn stars. Social media has turned their lives into beauty contests in which girls feel they have to post pictures of themselves in order to compete for ‘likes’ to feel they are pretty enough.

Just as childhood has changing out of all recognition, we urgently need to change the way we parent our daughters too. The good news is that I discovered is that though we may often feel it, parents—and daughters—are far from powerless. Most important of all, I discovered that it’s essential we parents don’t bury our heads in the sand.

For example, few of us want to think about our daughters seeing disturbing sexual images on the Internet. But the easy availability of pornography on the web means we have to tackle the subject with our kids head-on before the Internet gets there first. That’s because if our girls do end up stumbling across the violence and degradation of women in online porn, the lessons they learn will be as far as possible from the healthy messages you want them to have about sex.

They may not have gone looking for it, but pornographic images still get through when kids misspell web address, see pop-up ads or get sent photo messages. Don’t miss the boat. As they get older, and get increasingly curious, it’s gets even more urgent.

By the age of 12, seven out of ten children say they already know more about sex than their parents think they do. As one mum told me: “If I try to discuss it, my 14-year-old daughter just rolls her eyes and says: ‘Why are you telling me now? It’s a bit late!’”

None of this happens overnight. The sooner we begin helping our girls to decode all the messages—and reject them—the better. I promise you that there really are age- appropriate ways to talk about everything from porn to self-harm. I wrote my new book Girls Uninterrupted – Steps for building strong girls in a challenging world to show parents how to have those conversations.

But, if due to the demands of jobs and busy lives, we buy into anything-for-a-quiet life parenting, and allow kids to spend hours with iPods, iPads and laptops, they might wander off into a cyber-world where we won’t be able to follow them. We are at risk of losing our vital connection with our children, which we need more than ever to help them navigate a world that has never been so challenging.

The tween years in particular—from around seven to twelve—are an important window. These years provide our best chance to influence our children and shape their values before friends and peer pressure start drowning us out.

Tanith's headshotJust by becoming a more aware parent today, you can help protect your daughter against sexualization by making her more media savvy. In the two minutes you take to show your daughter how an image of an ultra-skinny model has been airbrushed, you’ve taught her not to try to live up to an image of perfection that doesn’t exist. By explaining where the pressures on your teen daughter to look sexy come from, and reminding her she’s worth more than that, you can mitigate the drip, drip, drip erosion of her self-worth.

But if we sit back and do nothing because we think there’s nothing we can do, the price is high for our children. A rise in eating disorders, self-harm, casual sex, teen pregnancy and underage drinking are some of the other side effects of growing up in up in a celebrity culture that puts an impossibly high value on looks and sexiness.

My daughters are worth so much more than that—and so are yours. Here are three ways to deal your daughter deal with the today’s pressures:


Selfies have become the new mirror. According to a recent study, 91 per cent of teenagers have posted one. There’s no problem, of course, if a girl has taken a few pictures every now and then, or recorded moments when she’s having fun. But if she starts constantly uploading them to social networks in order to compete for ‘likes,’ this suggests that she scrutinizes, in a, unhealthy way, the image that she is trying to project. On what basis does she want to be judged? Does she want to join an online pageant in which anyone can be a judge? Suggest she also take pictures that convey her personality, not just her looks. Help her to make a collage of the items that represent her, such as her hobbies and the passions that inspire her. Tell her it’s these things that make her special, not how she appears to other people.

The never-ending beauty contest

Our children are growing up in a culture where anyone whose looks do not live up to the high expectations set by celebrities, Photoshopped models, and the tidal wave of size zero selfies is considered to be failing. We mothers need to recognize that from an early age, many of our girls feel locked in a constant beauty contest they feel they can never win.

Counteract this trend by training your daughter how to look in the mirror and concentrate on the good—how her body works and serves her, not just how she projects it looks to others. Make a point of valuing character over appearance in all of the people you know, including, especially, your daughter. Show her looks are just a small part of who she is and model that for her yourself.

Remind your daughter that, in the words of the late Anita Roddick, there are over three billion women who don’t look like supermodels and eight who do.

Mean girl behavior

Meanness among children has existed since the words “No, you can’t play with us” were first uttered on a street, in a field, or anywhere children gathered before there were playgrounds. The sad thing is that nasty behavior among kids, particularly among girls, appears to be starting sooner than ever, even in preschool.

These days, girls know better than to organize overt campaigns of bullying. Yet, in a culture in which they are made to feel like they are not measuring up, they sometimes launch pre-emptive and under-the-radar strikes on female peers to temporarily shore up their fragile self-confidence. From the other side of the school walls, it feels like we have to no choice but to leave our children to it.

But there are steps you can take. Teach your daughter how to respond before she is devastated over being called fat, excluded by friends, or at the receiving end of sarcasm.  Explain that meanness says more about the person who says it than the person it is said to. Be a good role model in the way you treat others, and teach empathy so she is not tempted to resort to mean-girl bullying herself.

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I am so pleased to host a giveaway for one signed copy of Tanith Carey’s Girls, Uninterrupted. Enter the contest via Rafflecopter below. The contest will run this entire week, and I’ll announce a winner on April 5th. Good luck, and please spread the word!
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GIVEAWAY for Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear

Once upon a time, bullying took place on playgrounds, on school buses, and in hallways. At the end of the day, both the bullies and the bullied went home. There is no such “home” anymore—at least in terms of a safe retreat—because social media bullies can attack their victims online at any hour of the day. Bullies today seem to have so much more power than when I was a girl. My generation’s bullying was akin to BB guns, but the Internet is more like an AK-47. Cyberbullies who squeeze the trigger feel very powerful, and they are often quite disconnected from the consequences of their actions. And of course not all bullying is cyberbullying, which gets the most media attention. Kids peck at each other like baby chicks do, and if you’ve never personally witnessed that, then you might think it’s not so bad, but chicks will peck another chick to death.

The metaphor of the playground as jungle has persisted until quite recently.  Fortunately, heightened adult awareness of the real and serious suffering endured by bullied kids is fostering positive social change. Extreme and tragic consequences such as suicide have sparked a wide-scale effort on the part of adult professionals, parents, and schools to resist the idea that bullying is an inevitable and rather Darwinian part of childhood. Instead, many people have reframed bullying as a social problem—one that can be solved if enough energy is brought to it. It’s about time.

Bullied cover

I’m proud to call one of this country’s preeminent experts on bullying my friend. Carrie Goldman, author of Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear, might be familiar to you. Four years ago she wrote a post that went viral for her blog, Portrait of an Adoption, about her six-year-old daughter Katie being teased for bringing a Star Wars water bottle and backpack to school. Star Wars is only for boys, in case you didn’t know. Such was the message from Katie’s bullies, who, like so many children today, are some of the harshest enforcers of the gender roles hyped up by the greedy, profit-driven adult world of craven marketers and sexist media.

Why do children play by these rules? Because gender identity is rather concrete in young children and society reinforces for them that these standards are very, very important. Kids interpret these roles as fixed, not fluid, and they often seek the comforting structure of stereotyped roles to help them understand how to perform their gender properly. Unsurprisingly, they seek the approval of others by providing what they believe others want from them. This is a wonderful human adaptation—that children care about pleasing adults and doing what is “right.” But the problems are obvious.

One of the things I love about Bullied is that Carrie begins from a place of personal pain as the mother of a bullied child. I have always felt that the wounds received by one’s child cut more deeply than any received personally. But Bullied is not memoir. It goes beyond the personal story of one targeted child to tackle many stories of bullies, bystanders and victims (and their parents) in a way that combines narrative with current scientific research in an effort to understand why our culture is often cruel, and how it affects the families, schools and communities where our children struggle to find acceptance and safety.

I was really excited when I got to Interview Carrie for my chapter on bullying in Her Next Chapter. In our books, we both share the objective of going beyond descriptions of problems to offer practical tools to parents, teachers and kids for the developmentally typical—yet nonetheless challenging—struggles that kids face. Bullied speaks to everything from the influence of media on bullying culture, to the effects of bullying on the brain, to seeking help and restorative justice.

Carrie's headshot

Of great interest to me these days is the need to take action at the bystander level, shifting that role to one of “witness” and eventually ally. Powerful stuff. When bystanders, who are often quietly harmed by what they see, and whose inaction can enable and embolden bullies, can be taught to be active (to be witnesses or allies) rather than passive, that can be a game changer. Carrie covers all of this, as well as many tips and techniques for dealing with bullying in the moment and seeking adult help when needed. For parents of bullied children struggling to get assistance from their child’s school, there is tremendous support amidst these pages.

I especially loved the parts of Bullied that address the aspects of our society that can encourage bullying, such as the needless and sexist gendering of toys and other products; the sexualization of children; and the influence of social media and advertising. These are my bugaboos too! And they should be yours. Although technically any child can be bullied, we know that certain kids are at greater risk, and they tend to be the ones who do not conform to norms, be they traditional gender roles, a heterosexual orientation, mainstream learning styles, mental health markers, physical attractiveness, or any of a number of norms related to race, religion, socioeconomic class, and family constellation.

I worked in schools for over 25 years, and I can tell you that bullying was the primary complaint I dealt with as a school psychologist and later as a school principal. Distressed students and distressed parents were a big part of my typical workweek. I wish I’d had Carrie’s book back then. But you can have it now! I am so pleased to host a giveaway for one signed copy of Carrie Goldman’s Bullied. Enter the contest via Rafflecopter below. The contest will run this entire week, and I’ll announce a winner on August 18th. Good luck, and please spread the word!
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One of the most fulfilling and most memorable undertakings of my parenting journey was the formation of a mother-daughter book club, a collaboration with my then-eight-year-old daughter and four other mother-daughter pairs that would last for six years. We all discussed the need to counteract stereotyped and sexualized girl culture with positive messages about who girls and women really are and what they can do. Read more…


5 must-see movies for tween girls

The recent success of Brave and Frozen demonstrates that movies starring girls can not only succeed, but can also dominate at the box office. For much too long, the common belief among producers has been that female protagonists doom a movies to commercial failure because boys won’t go see it. But, good news! This idea is fast becoming urban legend! After watching many children’s movies to curate recommendations for mother-daughter book clubs, I discovered that many great movies starring girls have been there all along. Here are five of the best. Read more…

Eight Favorite Books Starring Interesting, Exciting, Daring, Adventurous Girls!

Google is full of lists recommending girl-empowering books. Favorite female protagonists from the classics, like Pippi Longstocking, to more recent heroines, like Katniss Everdeen, abound on these lists, but I wanted to make my own after reading so many children’s and YA books to curate for recommendations in my book Her Next Chapter.  Here are a few of my favorites, and why I liked them. These all come with original discussion guides in my book, so if you’ve got a mother-daughter book club and any of these pique your interest, you’ll be all set! Or, read these books with your daughters at home and be a book club of two!

My faves, and why…  

1. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi (age 10+)

In this fast-paced Newbury award winner, Charlotte Doyle is a typical well-mannered girl of wealthy upbringing in the year 1832 who must return home to her family in America after attending school in England. The two-month voyage she takes by ship presents her with substantial challenges and dangers usually encountered only by men, forcing her to abandon many of her preconceived ideas about the “proper place” for girls and to completely reevaluate her role within her family and society. One might call the book a gender bender—somewhat along the lines of Kidnapped, Mutiny on the Bounty or Treasure Island, but centered upon the experience of the female protagonist. There are many exciting twists, with several mysteries woven throughout the plot. I had read this book years ago and forgotten a lot of it, but when I sat down to read it again, I polished it off in one long afternoon, unable to put it down!

Of great interest to me as I read the book was the concept of the traditional female identity being based upon the “ladylike” qualities of beauty and proper attire, meticulous attention to cleanliness and appearance at all times, and obedience to men. Throughout this book, that ideal is repeatedly held up and examined in ways that both fit the context of a book set in the year 1832 and remain relevant today. In a modern culture that still stereotypes girls and women as being all about their outsides, this book shows the reader what is inside a thirteen-year-old girl who can no longer afford to keep up appearances in either sense of the term. Charlotte becomes a character of great complexity who has much more going on inside her than her outward appearance would lead you to believe at the start of the book.

This is one of those riveting page-turners that girls will not be able to put down. The protagonist draws you into her life aboard ship and it’s hard not to feel every wave, every wind, and every moment of joy, fear, courage, disappointment, confusion, and enlightenment that Charlotte Doyle feels herself. Daughters need not have experienced their own swashbuckling adventures to be able to talk about the times in their own lives when they have been forced out of their comfort zones and triumphed!

2. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (age 12+) Part Lord of the Flies, part America’s Next Top Model, and part Gilligan’s Island, Libba Bray’s fast-paced, tongue-in-cheek send-up of American girl culture, reality TV, and a beauty industry run amok is some of the smartest social commentary I’ve ever read in the YA Lit genre. Fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant are in a plane crash and find themselves surviving, Lost-style, on a desert island without make-up or cameras, and also without food, water, or shelter. Their surreal adventures as they cope with their own human foibles without hairspray or the Internet are actually an interesting counterpoint to the descent into savagery seen among the boys in Lord of the Flies. For these beauty-obsessed “mean girls,” being cut off from civilization gives them the freedom from societal pressures to actually find themselves, and to come of age in a remote location where their appearance can no longer be the core of who they are.

Is it satire? Is it parody? Is it over the top? Yes and yes and yes! It’s also hilarious, biting, in-your-face storytelling about the sexualization of girls, the beauty myth, gender stereotypes, and many of the other things being discussed in this book. Take the message seriously, but don’t take the book seriously. Let it make you think and talk. There isn’t much out there like this book. It gets five stars from me for actually taking on—in a clever, albeit deliberately heavy-handed way—our corporate consumer culture and the way we casually accept the specific ways it targets girls.

Best thing about this book? It addresses real issues while being irreverent and funny. Thumbs up!

3. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (age 12+) Stargirl is one of my favorite books for girls this age! I remember when my daughter was reading it at about age twelve, and I picked it up and couldn’t put it down. This book is as eccentric and enchanting as its protagonist, Susan “Stargirl” Caraway, whose unconventional life and worldview are at first mesmerizing to her classmates, but eventually backfire on her after she tries to conform, betraying her true self. There seems to be an element of magical realism in this book, although I’ve never heard or read anyone else express this same observation. The character of Stargirl is perhaps a metaphor for the inner tension all adolescents feel to some extent between going along with the crowd and daring to be unique.

This book addresses many important issues like individuality, bullying, bravery, diversity, and acceptance. Stargirl is unlike most girls we know in real life because she does not care what anyone else thinks of her—not of how she dresses, or dances, or sings. At first her classmates don’t know what to make of her, and she is so fun and interesting that she becomes immediately popular in her new school without even trying. Her antics are so unpredictable and deeply, deeply kind that everyone loves her, which makes some of the classically popular girls begin to shun her. When her boyfriend, Leo (the narrator), suggests she shift gears and become more like other kids—more “normal”—she starts going by her real name, Susan, starts dressing like the other girls, and starts engaging in more typical activities in order to try to fit in. None of that works. So, she reverts to her original, true personality, which is then met with mixed reactions by her classmates. The ending of the book is stunning, but I won’t give it away.

I’ve never read a book with a stronger message of nonconformity and staying true to who you are than Stargirl. It’s a very different book. I’ve talked to many people who loved it, and a few who hated it, but hardly anyone who felt anything in between!

4. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (age 12+) If there were a canon of young adult literature, A Northern Light would probably be in it. An intriguing blend of historical and fictional material, this is the story of fictional protagonist Mattie Gokey set within the context of the true history of the murder of Grace Brown. This coming of age story takes place in the Adirondacks of New York in 1906, and intertwines the fiction of being a sixteen-year-old girl working at The Glenmore, a hotel on Big Moose Lake where Grace Brown was murdered, with true details of the crime. The murder features prominently in the story, which also includes excerpts from the authentic love letters between Grace Brown and her lover and murderer, Chester Gillette (aka “Carl Graham”).

This book touches upon so many important themes and pieces of historical information for girls, including: domestic violence, unwed motherhood at the turn of the century, the insatiable quest for literacy and education by girls, traditional gender expectations, poverty, race, the early backlash against feminist writing and advocacy for women’s rights, female gender stereotypes, and the strength it takes to challenge a society that does not value the intellectual aspirations of girls and women. Mattie Gokey is an unusual heroine. She is bookish yet worldly, and unusually self-possessed. There is so much to discuss about this book that bears directly upon the mission of a mother-daughter book club.

5. Turtle in Paradise by (age 8+) What a delightful book! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked it up, but I was quickly absorbed into the world of eleven-year-old Turtle and her new life in Key West in the 1930s, before completion of the overseas highway, and during the days of hurricanes, hidden pirate treasure, barefoot free-range childhoods, and living off the land, for better or worse. Turtle in Paradise is based on the true history and family of the author, and includes many characters and historical events that are authentic to Key West in 1935.

When Turtle’s mother takes a job as a housekeeper for a woman in New Jersey who does not like kids, Turtle is sent back to her mother’s hometown of Key West, Florida, to temporarily live with her aunt. She has difficulty fitting in to a very new and different culture, and it is hot! There are all kinds of new creatures and plants, from scorpions to sponges to alligator pears (avocados). Even the ice cream flavors are strange: sugar apple, sour sop, and tamarind. But the biggest obstacle facing Turtle, besides missing her mother, is adjusting to all the boys she now lives with. She has three male first cousins in the house, and there are many other boys on the island who have tight friendships and don’t want to let Turtle in. The way she navigates this new social scene will bring a smile to your face—that girl is tenacious! And she is smart, courageous, funny, irreverent, and sure to get under your skin as she eventually manages to do with her new friends and relatives.

Although the adult relationships around her each have their unique dysfunctions, and reveal some manner of unhealthiness, they stand in sharp contrast to Turtle’s own inner strength and confidence about her place in the world as a girl and her ability to triumph despite her gender. She shows the boys a thing or to, and in so doing, learns that the “hard shell” that earned her the nickname Turtle belies her soft underbelly, which she comes to understand and value by the end of the book. Everyone on Key West has a nickname, and they are all meaningful as well as endearing. Most surprising and enjoyable was the cameo appearance of one of the world’s most famous writers, so keep your eyes opened for him! Hint: Even he had a nickname on Key West, and it was “Papa.”

6. Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin (age 12+) In this beautifully written historical novel set in Prohibition-era Minnesota, sixteen-year-old Garnet must go live with snobby relatives at a lakeside resort for the summer to escape a polio epidemic in her hometown. It is to be her last hurrah—a summer of fun before her final year of high school, after which she is to get married and settle into being a housewife. Garnet has a passion for bird watching and dreams of one day going to college and becoming an ornithologist, despite her mother’s more traditional plans for her. She also has a hobby of creating bird silhouettes in her spare time and they serve as a unifying motif throughout the book.

When Garnet gets a summer job in a hat shop, she meets the beautiful flapper Isabella, and they fall in love and begin a secret relationship. When the author, Molly Beth Griffin, was asked in an interview why she chose to write a lesbian coming-of-age story, she explained that most books about LGBT teens focus on their “coming out” stories, but that this should not be the only type of book out there. The relationship between Garnet and Isabella involves many of the same joys and challenges of teenage love experienced by heterosexual couples, and she wanted to show that. The book also revolves around many important and interesting social and historical facts beyond the sexual orientation of the main characters; it delves into issues of racial and gender inequality, as well as the economic dynamics of the Gilded Age that led to the Great Depression. The Roaring Twenties were a complex time. Through the lives of Garnet and Isabella, we see the simultaneous wildness of the era and its social constriction as the girls seek to understand—and to definethe meaning of femininity and the power of unexpected love.

7. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (age 10+) In the scorching summer of 1899, in a small Texas town outside of Austin, eleven-year-old Calpurnia Tate is growing up in a well-to-do family as the only daughter sandwiched between three older brothers and three younger ones. The times are changing fast—the first telephone line is on its way, and the first automobile makes its debut at the county fair. As the Tate family rings in the new century, Calpurnia wrestles with what it means to be a girl in this era, and how to reconcile her mother’s aspirations for her to be a housewife with her own aspirations to be a scientist. Her close relationship with her grandfather is central to the book. Set against a backdrop of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, the story focuses on Calpurnia’s “evolution” into a budding young female naturalist who resents the gendered demands placed upon her to sew and cook and prepare for a domestic life she views as boring and monotonous compared to the excitement of studying nature and biology.

At the end of the book, Calpurnia and her grandfather have discovered a new species of plant, which is received with much fanfare at the Smithsonian Institution, the National Geographic Society, and, to a lesser degree, within the Tate family. Calpurnia’s role model, Granddaddy, is her only hope for an ally as she asserts her desire to take a different path in life than other girls. His careful and loving mentorship of his only granddaughter is one of the most beautiful and inspiring parts of story, and can’t help but make you think about how many girls could benefit from this kind of relationship in today’s world.

Calpurnia has to create her own path to leadership, much as she bushwhacks her own paths in pursuit of plant and animal observations to record in her special notebook. Her fierce intelligence, tireless curiosity, and steady ambition allow her to stand out, even among a family of boys, as someone who knows who she is and who is determined to become a leader in a time and place where girls are actively discouraged from pursuing careers and are pressed into traditional roles by their parents. Calpurnia is determined to outsmart them all, and she does!

8. The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis (age 10+) For her research, author Deborah Ellis, apsychologist by profession, spent several months talking to girls and women in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan and Russia, and used these interviews as the basis of her description of life in Afghanistan.

The Breadwinner is based on true stories that came from these interviews. This book was a labor of love. The author donates all proceeds she receives from book royalties to Women for Women in Afghanistan, and the money goes toward girls’ education in the refugee camps. Talk about walking the walk! The Breadwinner is the first book in a trilogy. Eleven-year-old Parvana, like other girls and women in Kabul, is not allowed to go to school, go shopping, or even play outside since the Taliban has taken control of Afghanistan. She spends most of her time indoors, stuck in her family’s one-room home. When Taliban militants take her father away, Parvana must cut off her hair and pose as a boy in order to support her family.

Like many girls and women oppressed by the Taliban’s regime, Parvana actually comes from an educated family. The changes instituted under Sharia Law dismantle the rights and quality of life females experienced before the Taliban gained control. Although now dressing in a chador (veil), Parvana’s feelings about the repressive Muslim regime she now struggles against are always clear. This is must-read literature for American girls who have grown up with the Afghan War and are curious about the lives of the people there, especially the plight of females.  

Summer’s coming. So many books, so little time. Enjoy!                 

Publishers Weekly 2014 Best Parenting Books

How to Parent? Hard Science, Light Humor: Parenting Books 2014

By Kathryn E. Livingston

Mar 07, 2014

Today’s parents have science savvy—they demand evidence-based information, but want it delivered with cleverness and wit (who has time to read a dry scientific treatise when baby’s diapers are wet?). To wit, the spring/summer lists include a number of meticulously researched but reader-friendly and entertaining titles parents can pick up and put down at their leisure (or rather, when junior’s schedule allows a break).

The publishing company’s lead parenting titles are indeed parent-friendly, but solidly science-based. Says Karp, “Linda Geddes brings the breezy voice of a newly pregnant science journalist to Bumpology [Mar.], in which she sorts out conflicting data and theories. In Parentology [Mar.], sociologist Dalton Conley describes the scientific experiments he performed on his own two children, and the results are likely to surprise and entertain a lot of parents.”

Psychologist David Elkind’s new release is Parenting on the Go (Da Capo, July). By the venerable author of The Hurried Child, the book is in keeping with the trend of being direct and to the point, notes Ambrosio, with practical tips for “birth to 6, A to Z” from a “credentialed source.”

Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue by Christia Spears Brown (Ten Speed Press, Apr.) probes the research on gender and child development, aiming to help parents overcome gender stereotypes and raise their kids according to each child’s individual strengths. Says Ten Speed Press assistant editor Kaitlin Ketchum, “The author uses science-based hard research, but she’s also a parent so she includes anecdotes as well as examples from her own life. She offers really doable parenting tips and ways readers can integrate the research into their own lives.”

On the topic of gender, educational psychologist Lori Day examines mother-daughter bonds and the challenges girls face growing up today. Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip and So Much More (Chicago Review Press, May) also combines research with personal experience. Strong Mothers, Strong Sons by pediatrician Meg Meeker (Ballantine, Apr.), on the other hand, probes the particular problems of boys, focusing on how moms can provide the support boys need to thrive.

This sampling of upcoming titles and trends points to the fact that the parenting literature continues to widen its scope, inspiring contemporary parents not only to learn more, but to relax and laugh while expanding their knowledge and expertise. And it just may be that parent/readers are buying into the same lesson they often teach their kids: “Science can and should be fun!”

Excerpts from Publishers Weekly

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