Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Book Review: Nurtureshock

Everyone with any child under 18 living in their home should read this book. Now.

I heard Po Bronson on Fresh Air, and he dropped all manner of interesting bits from this book. I had to read it. It belongs to a species of books that has sprung up in or before the aughts. The species is born as follows: 1) an article in the New York Times (preferably the Magazine) makes huge waves 2) the author gets a spike of interest and - ba-da-bing - a book contract 3) the article, barely edited, becomes chapter 1 of the book. Now, this species is vulnerable to a specific failing: sometimes, there was only an article's worth of interesting things to say about the subject. I thought that might be the case with Nurtureshock. The first two chapters are nothing short of fantastic. They feature unbelievable and very useful revelations about child development and what parents should do in light of the new science. The middle of the book loses some of this steam, but the authors wisely save some of the fascinating conclusions for the end. The book covers topics like childrens' responses to certain kinds of praise, the effects of
sleep deprivation on kids' brains (with 1 hour less sleep, 6th graders perform like fourth graders), the inputs that make children speak sooner and more and the impact of gratitude on attitude. Your poor loved ones when you read this book: you'll be throwing startling study results at them all the time.


K said...

Is this the one that takes "not responding when your kids do things you disapprove of" and reframes it as "withholding love"? I heard about one like that. Have to get my hands on a copy of this. Thanks for the recommendation.

JFo said...

Hmmm. Nothing about that particular thing in this book. I do think it's pretty hard to be around parents who "withhold love" on their kids especially when their kids do things I disapprove of toward my kids.

Ashley Merryman said...

FYI- I just saw your post (thanks for the nice review!

@K, no, I don't think we are the book you are thinking of. Alfie Kohn wrote a piece like that, in the NYT recently, where he argued that both praise and punishment are bad, because they mean that love is conditional. But Po and I don't agree with Mr. Kohn on that point, at all. (We wrote about that quite a bit on our blog - if you are interested.

And again, thanks very much!

JFo said...

Ms. Merryman,

I'm honored to have you engage in our discussion of your terrific book here on my blog.

I've told family members about it over the holidays. At one of our dinner together, we had a good conversation about the effects of sleep deprivation on children.


Anne H. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anne H. said...

You had one of the authors comment on your blog about her book! How cool is that? Go Jeff. Plus now I want to read the book. May I borrow it from you?

JFo said...

It's very cool indeed. Google alerts do get people's attention, like authors and podcasters.

I would lend you the book if I owned it, but I borrowed it from the library. Should be pretty easy to get at yours.