Solo Parents, Kind Kids, Comic Relief for Family Dilemmas, Exceptional Children | Parenting Reviews

Just in time for Earth Day, Jena Pincott’s Wits Gut Grit will appeal to crunchy-style parents who prefer the natural elements to aid a child’s health and emotional well-being. In a tumultuous political climate, Thomas Lickona’s How To Raise Kind Kids provides strategies for teaching compassion to children by example of our own words and actions. And for a lighter touch, Your Dad Stole My Rake delivers a carefree look at parenting through the lens of Prairie Home Companion writer and stand-up comic Tom Papa.

Soaring temperatures, blooming buds, the thrill of poring through a new seed catalog. The sights and sounds of early spring are a refreshing wake-up call after a hibernation-inducing winter. Just in time for Earth Day, Jena Pincott’s Wits Gut Grit will appeal to crunchy-style parents who prefer the natural elements to aid a child’s health and emotional well-being. In a tumultuous political climate, Thomas Lickona’s How To Raise Kind Kids provides strategies for teaching compassion to children by example of our own words and actions. And for a lighter touch, Your Dad Stole My Rake delivers a carefree look at parenting through the lens of Prairie Home Companion writer and stand-up comic Tom Papa.

Beeson, Robert. Going Solo: Hope and Healing for the Single Mom or Dad. Focus on the Family. Apr. 2018. 240p. ISBN 9781589979390. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781684280452. CHILD REARING

Reading may not be high on the already overloaded to-do list of the single parent, but for those looking for hope and help, music executive Beeson offers a useful resource. Being a single parent may be a status, but being a solo parent is a condition, states the author, one filled with a dizzying array of sometimes conflicting emotions. Beeson shares the four P’s that saved his sanity as a solo parent: pause, prayer, practices, and perspective. Having worked with many popular music artists, Beeson navigated single parenthood for seven years after his painful divorce before remarrying. Personal anecdotes, encouraging Scriptures, and tales from the Christian music world pepper this book, which will appeal to both single moms and dads (the former not covered as prominently). Verdict Applicable to the growing demographic of single parents, this is sure to find an audience with faith-filled readers.

redstarKeene, Nancy. Childhood Leukemia: A Guide for Families, Friends, & Caregivers. 5th ed. Childhood Cancer Guides. May 2018. 496p. index. ISBN 9781941089040. pap. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781941089118. HEALTH

Four thousand children and teens in the United States are diagnosed with leukemia each year. In its fifth edition, Keene’s revised resource includes five brand-new chapters, 20 updated sections, and material on CAR T-cell immunotherapy (a recently approved treatment). As the mother of a long-term leukemia survivor and chair of the patient advocacy committees of the Children’s Cancer Group and the Children’s Oncology Group, Keene is familiar with the struggles of the families of cancer patients. She provides information on the different types of childhood leukemia and the various treatments available for each, as well as practical advice on varying topics, such as: how to tell your child, siblings, and others of a leukemia diagnosis; how to choose a course of treatment; forming a partnership with the medical team; tips for hospital stays; navigating side effects; and myriad other issues. Interspersed throughout are perspectives from parents. The vast appendix includes information on blood tests, lists of support organizations, and a host of comprehensive books and websites. ­VERDICT A must-have resource for families of childhood leukemia patients and all library ­collections.

redstarLickona, Thomas. How To Raise Kind Kids: And Get Respect, Gratitude, and a Happier Family in the Bargain. Penguin. Apr. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9780143131946. pap. $17; ebk. ISBN 9780525503736. CHILD REARING

Founding director of the Center for the 4th and 5th R’s (respect and responsibility), developmental psychologist Lickona (Educating for Character) is world renowned as an advocate for character education and advisor to Harvard University’s Making Caring Common project. Using cutting-edge advances in moral development, brain research, and traditional wisdom (studies show that the earliest signs of empathy are found in babies, who cry longer and louder when they hear another child wailing), the author shares strategies for promoting kindness in an era of toxic political and entitlement culture. According to Lickona, the person we become is largely based on which “wolf” (compassion or cruelty) we feed by our choices. Lickona’s approach centers on respect, fairness, and self-discipline through a parent’s example and action. He also touches on topics he believes tilt society toward kindness (or malice), such as screen usage and a hypersexualized culture. VERDICT Chock-full of straightforward tips and principles for creating a home that cultivates empathy, this work offers essential advice for all parents and teachers interested in character development.

redstarPapa, Tom. Your Dad Stole My Rake: And Other Family Dilemmas. St. Martin’s. Jun. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9781250144386. pap. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250144393. CHILD REARING

Forget tiger mom, stand-up comedian Papa (lead writer, A Prairie Home ­Companion) introduces the much more palatable ice cream mom and admonishes us to call our moms before they die of martyrdom and explores why giving dad gifts is a waste (the best present is to leave him alone). Lauded by fellow ­comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Jim Gaffigan (Dad Is Fat), Papa will send readers into peals of laughter as he delves into why the real necessities of a “kid friendly” vacation are vending machine snacks and ice and why having sick children is like working for FEMA (it involves “mopping things up, carrying bodies, and doing laundry”). This is a quick read, with brief chapters that keep readers turning pages and perhaps reaching for a tissue to soak up tears of hilarity. Truth is oftentimes stranger than fiction, and the bizarre characters we are related to may just provide the best comic relief. VERDICT At times poignant, always tickling the funny bone, Papa’s first book will brighten the most challenging days of toddler- and teenagerhood.

Pincott, Jena. Wits Guts Grit: All-Natural Biohacks for Raising Smart, Resilient Kids. Chicago Review. Apr. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9781613736883. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781613736913. CHILD REARING

Science writer Pincott (Do Chocolate ­Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?) looks at natural biohacks to help kids adapt to a changing world. She takes on the concept of grit, the ability to keep pursuing one’s goals even after setbacks and against all odds, popularized by psychologist Angela ­Duckworth in her book of the same name and one of two traits said to be more predictive of success than IQ (the other is self-control). Drawing on existing research and her own experimentation, Pincott asks, what if memory and learning could be improved after eating certain foods, what if we use nature itself to shape the minds and health of our children by harnessing products available in the natural world? In addition to citing numerous scientific journal studies on subjects such as getting fresh air to increase focus and creativity and consuming more dietary fiber to help with childhood anxiety, ­Pincott discusses experiments incorporated into her own household. Whether allowing her daughters’ poop to be swabbed for American Gut, an initiative that sequences and compares microbiota of people across the country, or eating homemade yogurt twice a day and monitoring their cortisol levels, personal accounts leaven this fascinating glimpse into how the natural world can bolster children’s growth. VERDICT A compelling read that solidly makes the ­nature to ­nurture connection.

Reber, Deborah. Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World. Workman. Jun. 2018. 265p. ISBN 9781523502127. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781523503865. CHILD REARING

When Reber’s son was diagnosed as “2e” (twice exceptional), with the trifecta diagnosis of ADHD, Asperger’s, and gifted, the author was introduced to the “lonely and difficult” journey of parenting an atypical child in a “conventional” world. A YA novelist (Language of Love) and nonfiction (Doable) writer, ­Reber made a career shift and started TiLT Parenting, a website, podcast, and social media company for parents of differently wired children as a result of her experience with her own son. Reber asserts that parents need to start by powerfully changing their thinking and action to transform the dynamics in the family and help their children to be the best version of themselves. Instead of hoping they outgrow their wiring and working on building on a child’s weaknesses, Reber encourages embracing their strengths and adopts the term neurodiversity to discuss neurological differences. She suggests seeking out like-minded parents, letting go of time lines and expectations, and making self-care a priority. VERDICT A valuable resource for parents, teachers, and family members of exceptional children of all types.

Rose, Kendall. The Stepmoms’ Club: How To Be a Stepmom Without Losing Your Money, Your Mind, and Your Marriage. Sourcebooks. May 2018. 272p. ISBN 9781492635413. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781492635420. CHILD REARING

One-third of American children will live in a stepparent home before the age of 18 and half will have a stepparent at some point during their lifetime. This makes 15 million stepmoms, a demographic the author knows well. Former business executive Rose is part of a group of four stepmoms, including Stephanie Block, Elizabeth Ann Garrett, and Amber Joy, who have been meeting regularly for more than 20 years. Stories from these women and other stepmoms who have lived to tell the tale run throughout this text, which is peppered with tips on practical matters such as custody and divorce agreements, financial hurdles, and the every­day personal and emotional battles that stepmothers face. VERDICT The up-front tone, which reads like stepmoms kvetching over a strong cup of espresso, might not appeal to all readers, but the array of perspectives may hit close to home for many, who will appreciate the frank advice.

Richmond, VA–based freelance writer Julia M. Reffner has reviewed books and DVDs for a variety of genres for LJ. She has judged several book awards and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Word Weavers

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

RELATED 

TOP STORIES

LIBRARY EDUCATION

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COMMUNITY FORM

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.