Thursday, August 19, 2010

Books Worthy of Praise

I am ashamed to say that it's been awhile since I've found the time to curl up and completely lose myself in the pages of a good book.  I suppose it's in part due to the fact that I've yet to find one that really captures me, and partly because I'm busy and never seem to find the time.

I read a book while I was still teaching in Taiwan; a book that I stumbled on while waiting in an airport.  I'd never heard of it, but as soon as I read that catchy little blurb on the jacket, I was hooked.  It might not be something you'd lay your hands on given the choice of any book, but you will undoubtedly catch yourself saying "ohhhh huh, I never thought of it that way."  It is, as self-described, destined to become one of the most provocative and influential books about children of our time.  Upon devouring it, I would argue that every human, not just parents, should read it.  You should read it because we all influence children; whether it be when you're fumbling around the strange land of raising your own kids, or dwelling in the I'm-not-ready-phase and awkwardly trying to converse with your friends' little ones, or even just trying to understand 'those strange' teens that seem so different than what you remember yourself as.  We do, inevitably, have a great deal of contact with the growing gremlins that will make up the future.  And let's face it, you'll catch yourself reflecting on your own childhood and contemplating the influences in your life.  You will, not only understand those slimy little irresistibly cute turds better, you'll gain a deeper understanding of yourself.

Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman compiled mountains of prodigious research and keen analysis to tell us one thing: you've got it all wrong.

"Nurture Shock" will change the way you think.  It will, most importantly, make you rethink every instinct you have about children.

It is ten chapters of thought-provoking, striking topics like "why the most brutal person in a child's life is often a sibling", or "when it's too soon -- or too late -- to teach a child about race", and why kids -- "even those from the best of homes" are still aggressive, cruel, or dishonest.  I was particularly interested in the first chapter: "The Inverse Power of Praise" which examined the neurobiological effects of praising children the 'old-fashioned' way.  I was, at that time, a kindergarten teacher, so I put their science to the test.  And I was absolutely amazed at the results I achieved with a slight change in my language and attitude.  It took me so little effort, but the results were profound, and swift too!

It isn't very often that I implore my friends, family, co-workers to read what I have my hot little fingers on; to each his own is my motto when it comes to enjoying a good read.  But I broke all of my rules and can't stop talking about this book.  I read it nearly a year ago and I will read it again.  And again, I imagine.

So, I'd like to share... but, go get your own copy.  You won't regret it.


  1. I will get it Lei. Very intriged with what insight the book contains.

  2. Have you got the book yet Carolyn? I'm dying to know what you think of it :)