Anderholdt, Miriam and Jan Goldberg, 1999
Perfectionism: What’s Bad About Being Good?
This book explores perfectionism. It examines the difference between perfectionism and a healthy pursuit of excellence; identifies how perfectionism may affect the mind and body and how perfectionism can impact relationships with others. It provides suggestions for breaking free of procrastination, how to take positive risks and how to reach out for help when needed.
Anderson, Laurie Halse
Fever 1793Review by the Olson family (kids ages 9 and 11 plus Mom)
Historical fiction fans will be intrigued with the book, Fever 1793, by Laurie Halse Anderson. The book is a recount of the devastating yellow fever that actually struck our nation’s capitol during George Washington’s presidency. Spirited 14-year-old Mattie Cook must use all of her physical and mental resources to deal with the deadly pestilence that consumes the lives of her loved ones, neighbors and the city itself. Also great on audiocassette!
Brockman, John, Editor
Curious Minds: How a Child Becomes a ScientistReview by Susan Mendesh-Fitzgerald
For most every parent there is a hope that the childhood you provide your son or daughter will be inspirational, in addition to being joyful and loving. Whether it's the Academy Awards, a PGA championship, or a Nobel Prize, there is that moment of thanks when we hear the recipient acknowledge their parents, a teacher, or a mentor, for the experiences that contributed to who they are today.
John Brockman had a similar idea in mind when he decided to compile this collection of essays from some of today's most prominent scientists. The question he put to them was this: "What happened when you were a kid that led you to pursue a life of science?" The collection of responses in the book include those from prominent biologists, mathematicians, psychologists, physicists, and more.
But, alas, if you hope to read this book as a "how-to", as in, how to raise your child to be a scientist, you will be somewhat disappointed. For, if there is a common thread, it is only that there does not seem to be one, at least among these 25 or so scientists. Some had families packed with scientists, talking science at the dinner table each night, while others had no such family lineage or early mentor, but simply came to their field as many of us have to ours: by luck, by chance, and, as the title tells us, by a curious mind.
One possible explanation for this observation is provided by one of the scientists in t he book, Steven Pinker. As a prominent experimental psychologist at Harvard University, (and this writer's favorite author), Pinker tells us that childhood memories may be more a backward reflection of our current perspective than the other way around. What's more, his belief is that parents, in fact, have very little direct influence on their children (after conception, of course), so that, even if a pattern developed among successful scientists, it is unlikely that what we do as parents will "create" that result. (If you're interested in learning more about this somewhat controversial idea, I highly recommend Pinker's book, aptly named, "The Blank Slate"). So he describes his childhood with the caveat that it is probably not highly reliable let alone a blueprint for success.
Even so, this book is interesting, especially if you enjoy reading thoughts and recollections from highly engaging people, how they spent their youth, the sometimes circuitous path that led them to their career, and what they believe influenced them along the way. And not all scientists in the book would agree with Pinker--some describe clear, specific memories and events in their childhood that they think helped shape how they saw the world and what was compelling to them.
Here are a few of my favorite anecdotes from the book:
Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist, Oxford University
In spite of a family full of bird-watching, flower-naming naturalists, as a young boy he could not differentiate between a blue tit and a chaffinch at the birdfeeder. His grandfather was mortified at such ignorance, asking Richard's father, "Good God, John . . . is that possible?"
Dawkins notes, "I was a secret reader, and it became something of a vice; I would sneak up to my bedroom with a book when I was supposed to be out in the fresh air. Maybe obsessive reading imprints a love of words in a child, and perhaps later assists the craft of writing."
Steven Pinker, experimental psychologist, Harvard University
"[My] science education was Victorian. When I challenged a teacher by noting that milk bottles left on our porch on a winter day burst, she said it could not have happened because warm things expand and cold things contract. [But] Schooling is a small part of education, and I learned science anyway. A failed science project, based on a suggestion in a library book, taught me about chemistry: A coil of wire attached to a battery and dipped in an electrolyte solution did not act like an electromagnet, but the tip of the wire got thickly coated in copper, and I soon amazed my friends by producing copper-plated dimes and nickel-plated pennies."
Steven Strogatz, professor, department of theoretical and applied mechanics, Cornell University
"[My science teacher, Mr.] DiCurcio said, "I want you to figure out a rule about this pendulum," handing each of us a little toy pendulum with a retractable bob. The point was to see how the length of the pendulum determined its period, the time for one swing to and fro . . . . I was dutifully plotting the period of the pendulum versus its length, it occurred to me after about the fourth or fifth dot that a pattern was starting to emerge. These dots were falling on a particular curve that I recognized because I'd seen it in my algebra class--it was a parabola. I remember experiencing an enveloping sensation of fear, then of awe. It was as if . . . this pendulum knew algebra! I suddenly knew what people were talking about when they said that there was order in the universe, and that, more to the point, you couldn't see it unless you knew math. It was an epiphany I've never really recovered from."
One idea I think we can take from the book, as parents, educators, or mentors-in-waiting, is that opportunity may matter, in order for "chance" to have its effect. At the very least, we should be able to enjoy our children more--who they are and what they like to do, and stop worrying so much when we see them spend what we think is too much time reading, tinkering, daydreaming. For who knows? Their thoughts may be the stuff of scientists after all.
The Dragon in the Cliff: A Novel Based on the Life of Mary AnningReview by Mary Davis
In 1811, at the age of 13, Mary Anning discovered “the dragon in the cliff,” the first complete icthyosaur skeleton. Her father had introduced her to fossil hunting years before, and she persisted against the prevailing opinions of the times (with regard to women) to become a leading field researcher. Author Sheila Cole spent years researching this story, including a year in England walking along the beaches where Mary worked and reading her day book (journal) in the British Museum in London. Since there are few known facts about Mary, this book is written as a work of fiction, based on what Ms. Cole was able to put together about Mary herself and the scientific community with which she interacted. Sit down with Mary as she tells you about her life, enjoy the drawings of specimens she discovered, and learn more facts in the author’s epilogue. Recommended for ages 10+.
Carson, Ben, M.D., with Cecil Murphey
Gifted HandsReview by Mary Davis
At the young age of 33, Dr. Ben Carson became chief of pediatric neurosurgery at prestigious John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1987, he helped initiate and carry out a surgical plan to successfully separate Siamese Twins joined at the back of the head. This is his story of how he overcame incredible odds to arrive at this place in life – poverty, a fathers defection at age 8, an uncontrollable temper, failing grades, derision of classmates, prejudice, and more. I would recommend this book to 7th graders through adults. The part where Ben is struggling with grades and getting treated badly by classmates might open the eyes of some students who have not really had to try hard to do well in school. His drive to better himself is very motivational.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night TimeReview by Laura H., grade 7
This story is about a boy named Christopher who lives in England with his father. He is autistic.
One night, Christopher discovers his neighbor’s dog, dead, in his yard. The owner sees him hugging the dog and Christopher is accused of killing it. He then decides to try to solve the dog’s murder. This eventually leads Christopher to uncover not only who committed the crime, but also many secrets about his parents’ divorce.
This book was interesting to read because Christopher cannot understand human emotions in himself or others. He states everything in a very factual way and uses diagrams and tables to explain to the reader what he is thinking.
I liked this book because it shows that someone with autism may see things differently, but can still lead a normal life.
GodlessReview by B.B., 7th grade
Religion is something that is very precious to many people. Some people take their religion very seriously, and if you are one of those people, and can't accept jokes about Christianity or other religions, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK.
Now with that out of the way...
Jason Bock is 15 years old, 5'11", and 224 pounds. He lives in a desert town called St. Andrews Valley, and has led a somewhat normal life.
Jason's Mom is a hypochrondiac. Only she doesn't think she is always sick, she thinks Jason is always sick. She goes from thinking he has narcolepsy, to thinking he has mononucleosis, to thinking he has narcolepsy again. Jason's Dad, on the other hand, is obsessed with Jason's soul, and forces Jason to go to a youth group, where Jason first announces his new religion.
The Plot of the book unfolds when Jason gets punched in the face by a kid in his grade. While lying on the ground, he looks up and sees that he is staring at his town's water tower. Jason realizes how sacred the water tower is to their community...he starts thinking of it as a god, since it keeps them alive. Jason then has a revelation. A new religion is born.
Jason's new religion of Chutengodianism helps him get to know more people in a better way. He learns that the kid who punched him out in the first few pages of the book likes books just as much as him. But as the religion gets more popular, mayhem arises, and Jason is challenged to keep his religion's principles just and sane...and legal.
I liked this book because its view on religion is very similar to mine. The book itself is more appealing to teenagers, since the book is told in the point of view of Jason (who is 15), and some parts are very adventurous. If you are an adult and want to read this book, consult the disclaimer at the top.
Up From Underachievement
Is your student one of many gifted underachievers? Do you feel confident that you understand why and that you have a plan of action to address the situation? If not, you might get a wealth of helpful information from this book.
Dr. Heacox identifies 1) the rebel, 2) the conformist, 3) the stressed learner, 4) the victim, 5) the struggling student, 6) the distracted learner, 7) the bored student, 8) the complacent learner and 9) the single-sided achiever. In each case, she gives quotes you might hear from each underachiever.
The section on “The Coaches” has practical tips and pitfalls to avoid for teachers and parents. “The Strategy Sessions” has a student self-assessment with page numbers to refer to in the book for help with whichever items pertain to the student.
Hoddeson, Lillian and Vicki Daitch
True Genius:The Life and Science of John Bardeenreview by Susan Mendesh-Fitzgerald
This book caught my eye on a table at EPCGT’s book fair last year. I probably would not have noticed it except for the subtitle, “The Only Winner of Two Noble Prizes in Physics.” Gee, I thought to myself, a person whose work had twice received the Noble Prize and I hadn’t even heard of him! I guess maybe that’s not too surprising…after all, many of us don’t keep up on the latest breakthroughs in physics. But John Bardeen won for two discoveries that the average person can appreciate: the transistor and superconductivity (an idea even Einstein puzzled about).
What finally convinced me to buy this book, however, was why this book was written, rather than the scientific how of the discoveries. The authors’ premise is, in part, that because John Bardeen did not fit the typical stereotype of a genius (i.e., John Nash, Richard Feynman, Albert Einstein and others), his name and work are less often known.
The book takes the reader through the life of John Bardeen:
- A boy growing up in a stable family with parents who valued education;
- An intelligent youth who, by middle school, had somewhat uneven grades but demonstrated high math ability and was eventually subject and grade accelerated;
- A college student without a strong focus but one who pursued math, science and engineering courses at the graduate level where he eventually finds his passion.
The authors started out intending to enlighten readers about the work of John Bardeen. But they soon realized Bardeen’s story is one that also confronts, and perhaps cast doubt, on the stereotype of genius so commonly expected: the great thinker who cannot connect with others, or the eccentric genius with emotional and psychological problems (see A Beautiful Mind). John Bardeen did not fit that stereotype; he married, had a family of his own, was a loving father and husband, and was a genius who made major contributions to the field of physics.
I found this book to be interesting both for the science and the biography. Of special interest to parents with gifted children is an epilogue where the authors talk more directly about genius and their views on how to cultivate creative genius in our society. To them, Bardeen exhibited not just an innate ability, but also a work ethic driven by experimentation, perseverance, and an open mind, that helped him achieve. In addition, he had an effective way of breaking big problems into small, manageable pieces that became easier to solve.
One criticism to note: if you’re looking for a book that comprehensively describes the science of John Bardeen’s discoveries, you may be disappointed in this work. It really only provides a general account of the discoveries and the detailed knowledge behind them. Instead, it is better viewed as a biography that introduces us to a two-time Noble Prize winner who deserves public awareness.
The Northern LightsReview by Mary Davis
The Northern Lights fascinated me. It tells the story of Norwegian scientist, Kristian Birkeland’s, many-year struggle to solve the secret of the Aurora Borealis. Author Lucy Jago explains the science behind Mr. Birkeland’s many endeavors in such a way that nonscientists can comprehend. She also amazes me with the depth of her research that gives you insight into Kristian Birkeland, the man. You come to know his personality, his relationships with co-workers and friends, his love for his country, his depression and loneliness, his talent for invention and his utter genius at understanding concepts well ahead of his time. I would highly recommend this book to any adult with an interest in science.
Jargodzki, Christopher R. and Franklin Potter
Mad About Physics: Braintwisters, Paradoxes, and Curiosities
For fun with physics, check out this highly informative and entertaining book. You’ll find nearly 400 challenging questions and answers in the fields of naked-eye physics (observable phenomena), sports physics, earth sciences and astronomy.
Keillor, Garrison and Jenny Lind Nilsson
The Sandy Bottom Orchestra
A fourteen-year-old Wisconsin girl faces a long summer ahead, where friendships come and go, parents do the wackiest things and music makes it all worthwhile.
Levine, Melvin D., M.D., F.A.A.P.
Jarvis Clutch – Social Spy
For grades 5-8
This book comes highly recommended by an EPCGT member with a “2E” (twice exceptional) kid who struggles with social situations
Please refer to Educators Publishing Service (www.epsbooks.com) for an informative review.
Mathews, Jay, 2002
HARVARD SCHMARVARD: Getting Beyond the Ivy League to the College That Is Best for YouReview by Mary Davis
Here is a book for gifted students (and their parents) who are approaching college decisions. Jay Mathews, a former alumnus recruiter for Harvard for 20 years and a current education reporter and columnist for the Washington Post, helps introduce a measure of calm and sanity to a process that has tested many family waters.
Mathews debunks the myth that graduates of selective colleges tend to earn substantially more than those who graduate from less selective colleges, and he states his belief that at least 100 American universities have academic resources indistinguishable from Harvard’s. He says this is a safety net for those top students who don’t have class rank, and goes on to encourage students to realize the importance of an intelligent peer group in high school. In other words, students should choose a rigorous curriculum even at the possible expense of a high GPA to best prepare them for whatever college curriculum they take.
SAT scores are only a part of the student portfolio, along with GPA and activities, and Mathews cautions students (maybe more accurately, parents) not to “obsess over them.” He says high school extracurriculars are very important on the college application, although what colleges are looking for is passion and depth in one or two areas rather than involvement in 12 different activities.
Short lists of questions for students and for parents help generate discussion and provide a starting point for searching out colleges that may be good fits. Mathews stresses the importance of life available outside the college classroom.
Common-sense directions to check college applications and essays for spelling and grammar, to give honest answers, to ask for feedback, etc. are accompanied by suggestions of how to keep your family intact despite the stress.
Early Acceptance programs, campus visits, college interviews and wait lists are discussed. The appendix of 100 colleges that are “better than you think,” culled from guidance counselors, teachers, national experts, students and parents, makes for interesting reading. Mathews relays enough information to help you know whether you want to do further research on any of the colleges.
I really liked this resource. It’s a quick read with big print, personal letters from college students and their parents, and highlighted key messages. The author could be advising you over a cup of coffee; he’s down to earth, self-deprecatory and careful to present research along with the benefit of his personal experiences in the field and as a parent. This book will not answer all of your questions about the process but its unique perspective is a great addition to Barron’s (see below).
NOTE: While Mathews touts the extracurricular benefits found at large universities, of the 100 colleges listed, at least 85 have undergraduate enrollment of 4,000 or less. Also, highly respected Grinnell College is located in Iowa, not Ohio.
A good related source: Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools You Should Know About Even If You’re Not a Straight-A Student by Loren Pope, 2000.
An EPCGT favorite for details on over 1600 colleges: Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges (current edition)
Matthews, Tom L.
Always Inventing: A Photobiography of Alexander Graham BellReview by Mary Davis
We know Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, but he was a true inventor at heart. At age 11 he invented a wheat husker, in his 70’s he was conducting experiments with hydrofoils until his death at 75, and the years in between were full of learning and problem solving. Find out what led him to invent a harmonic telegraph; a telephonic probe to detect the location of bullets in a body; and the vacuum pump artificial respiration machine, which was the prototype for the iron lung. Read about his experiments with kites and how that carried over to the building industry with the first tetrahedral structure. View him not just as a scientist/inventor, but as a teacher who loved children and had a special place in his heart for the deaf; an environmentalist who was deeply involved in the early days of the National Geographic Society; and a loving husband, father and grandfather. The many photos and illustrations are bound to appeal to children and to adults with an appreciation of history. I highly recommend this remarkable book for ages 8 and up.
Get Off My Brain: A Survival Guide for Lazy StudentsReview by Mary Davis
“Nobody kept score and many cheers ago, our poor teachers brought forth the concept, conceived in mediocrity, that all students are created equal and therefore need only be equally creative…”
As represented in this partial quote, the book is intended to help gifted and talented students who find school “long, boring and irrelevant” to take charge of their school time, be creative in how they handle their written assignments, learn test-taking strategies and develop their communication skills. This book is fairly quick and easy reading and full of humor to ease any tension you might feel over the subject matter. Two student reviews: “This book changed my life…it gave me permission to relax about school…” and “This book gave me the guts to be creative.”
Neihart, Maureen, Psy.D., Sally M. Reis, Ph.D., Nancy M.Robinson, Ph.D. and Sidney M. Moon, Ph.D.
The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do We Know?Review by Susan Mendesh-Fitzgerald
“The research …indicates that high-ability students are typically at least as well adjusted as any other group of youngsters.” This is the conclusion drawn by the editors of the recently published book, The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do We Know? The book is a publication supported by the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) in an effort to provide summary information about research in the area of social and emotional needs of gifted children as well as a framework for meeting those needs in the classroom and at home.
To many, this may seem a surprising finding; by observation and by instinct, parents and educators often report the difficulties gifted children seem to have in making friends, fitting in to the classroom and adjusting to the social world. The common explanation for such difficulties is that gifted children must be less emotionally and/or socially developed than their peers or somehow less able to handle social and emotional issues in their lives. However, the research review conducted in this book suggests otherwise. That is, the problem is not an inherent vulnerability in gifted children, but rather that, along with their heightened intellectual or creative abilities, gifted children also have advanced social and emotional abilities, although often not as advanced as their intellectual gifts, that make it difficult for them to “fit” into a standard classroom model. For example, a highly gifted 8-year-old may have the intellectual abilities of an 11-year-old, the social and emotional skills of a 9-year-old and the physical skills of an 8-year-old. When placed with other 8-year-olds, this student may seem out of sync because, relative to his/her peers, his interests and maturity do not match. Thus, gifted children can appear to have social difficulties when the underlying issue is not immaturity but an inflexible educational environment that fails to meet their intellectual needs, pervasive societal attitudes that are anti-intellectual, characteristics of heightened sensitivity and emotional intensity and/or uneven academic abilities.
Furthermore, the book cites research that suggests that when their intellectual needs are met, that is, when gifted students are provided appropriate academic challenge and a like-ability peer group (i.e., when the highly gifted 8-year-old is placed in a challenging environment with other highly gifted peers, or with older students with similar interests), gifted children show improvement in their social success as well as satisfaction in intellectual pursuits. Put simply, gifted children tend to find social connections with others who share their interests. Students allowed to subject accelerate, grade accelerate, ability cluster within the classroom and/or pull out with other gifted peers for a significant portion of their learning time, tend to do better socially and emotionally.
The book is organized to discuss the issue of social and emotional development by:
- identifying social/emotional issues of gifted children
- identifying ways gifted children respond to these issues
- discussing issues unique to sub-groups of the gifted population
- outlining some promising practices to address these issues and further research to be done
For families of gifted children looking to understand and support them better, this book is a good place to start. It provides a summary of research on the identification of social and emotional issues for the gifted child and possible ways the child, the family and educational institutions can address these issues. It is not, however, a qualitative review of the research per se, so that is left to the reader to do. Furthermore, while it provides some discussion of the social/emotional issues unique to sub-groups of the gifted population, i.e., females, blacks, gifted with learning disabilities, etc., it is by no means comprehensive. Readers interested in such sub-groups will ultimately need to consult other gifted publications that consider such specific issues in more depth. It is an important read for parent and educators, however, because it confronts the popular explanation of why gifted children can have social and emotional issues. When we are clearer about the underlying reasons for such issues, we are more effective in helping them reach their full potential through proper support and services.
*Maureen Neihart was the keynote speaker at the MCGT Conference on October 19th, 2002.
Palladino, Lucy Jo, Ph.D., 1999
Dreamers, Discoverers & Dynamos: How to help the child who is bright, bored, and having problems in schoolReview by Mary Davis
This book is about children with the “Edison trait” – highly original, unconventional, inventive, intelligent and liable to drive others crazy. They tend to think divergently, making it difficult for them to focus on one idea at a time (as our schools more often ask). With this book, Dr. Palladino tries to help the reader see and experience the world from the child’s point of view. She talks about why this trait is on the rise, its connection to ADD/ADHD, characteristics of the three groups, ways to help your child learn to achieve, the importance of a strong relationship between parent and child, and the importance of taking care of yourself and your family. Thom Hartmann, author of ADD: A Different Perception, has this to say about the book: “Parents will find in Dreamers, Discoverers, and Dynamos real-world solutions and the light of hope; professionals will discover a thought-provoking new view of these exceptional children.”
Reddy, Maureen, Martha Roth and Amy Sheldon, editors
MOTHER JOURNEYS: Feminists write about Mothering
“…….we asked feminist mothers to tell us what the experience of mothering means to them: how it relates to their politics, what it is like to mother…..This compelling collection of essays stories, poems and artwork is the response to this request, investigating with clarity, humor, courage and sometimes pain, the dual issues of feminism and motherhood.”
The contents are divided into sections that start from “Discovering Ourselves,” “Discoveries through our children,” “The Politics of Mothering” to “Continuity with our own Mothers,” and cover a range of experiences “-violence, conflict with majority values, children’s contact with racist cultures as well as pride for doing things in feminist ways. It covers the sorrows and joys of mothering and ultimately the joy of claiming identities as women with choices.”
Rimm, Sylvia, Ph.D. with Sara Rimm-Kaufman, Ph.D., and Ilonna Rimm, M.D., Ph.D.
See Jane Win: The RIMM Report on How 1,000 Girls Became Successful WomenReview by Mary Davis
This book is the elaboration of the findings of a 3½-year research study conducted by nationally known psychologist Dr. Sylvia Rimm and her two professional daughters. The 13 careers researched come under the headings of power brokers, healers and discoverers, communicators, artists and musicians, and nurturers. Respondents were not included if they were neutral or unhappy about their chosen field. Here you will find not only commonalities and differences among career paths and themes that seem to run through the childhoods of most of the successful women, but also stories of and quotations from a number of them. The research will no doubt support much of what you already consider to be common sense (limit those TV messages about women, encourage taking risks of competition, have both parents set high educational expectations for their daughters, etc.) but you will likely see some new ideas here, and the stories make for interesting reading for you and your daughter(s). The 1999 copyright makes this information timely.
Ruf, Deborah L., Ph.D., 2005
Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left BehindReview by Mary Davis
In Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind, educational psychologist Dr. Deborah Ruf talks about our society not meeting the needs of the highly gifted, of whom there are greater numbers than believed in the past, and provides practical advice for parents.
Dr. Ruf uses a “Ruf scale” (of 1-5 with 1 being moderately gifted and 5 being the most gifted) to help identify where children are on the education continuum and how their placement may necessitate educational adjustments. The first part of the book talks about tests (including changes in IQ test norms) and provides scores and “snapshots” from her case studies of 78 gifted and highly gifted children, giving insight into personality traits and academic accomplishments at different ages. The parents’ own words provide a personal glimpse into their lives, and readers who have gifted children will share memories of common milestones achieved and empathize over parenting challenges. The observations are peppered with author’s notes, and Dr. Ruf provides summaries that pull together the commonalities of the unique experiences.
After setting the stage with evidence of academic advancement, behaviors and traits that covers a wide gamut, Dr. Ruf supplies her Crash Course on Giftedness and the Schools. She talks about the educational policy shift away from tracking and ability grouping, the No Child Left Behind emphasis on supporting academically struggling children with time and resources, the misdiagnosis of ADD or hyperactivity (especially for boys), gender issues, the difficulty of promoting individual learning with the physical structure of schools, etc.
The chapter on School Years and Ongoing Issues once again includes comments from parents of some of the children about their experiences in working with schools to find a good instructional match. Dr. Ruf talks about why gifted children learn poor study habits, emotional changes they experience in the educational setting, and student coping mechanisms of either trying to fit in by performing at the level of others or actively resisting completion of assignments that make no sense to the student or require no learning. She shows how outward behaviors by gifted students can often mask abilities and consequently hinder accommodation by the schools. Dr. Ruf also delves into the topics of motivation, disorganization, distraction in class, math and writing issues, and the school emphasis on social skills with children of the same age.
Chapter 12, Educational Needs for Each Level, is an aid to help parents “to piece together options and opportunities that will contribute to: (1) accelerated learning, (2) the development of study and time management skills, (3) a continuing intrinsic love of learning, (4) opportunities to experience normal school and social activities like school plays, band, sports, yearbook, math league, and spending time with friends, and (5) ultimately leaving home for a satisfying university experience.” In the mix here are public schools, private schools, home schooling, charter schools, boarding schools, online learning, subject and/or grade acceleration, ability grouping, early entrance, summer programs and more.
Additional parental aids come in the form of appendices that supply developmental guidelines for identifying gifted preschoolers and public school curriculum expectations by grade levels.
Schwager, Tina and Michele Schuerger, 1999
Gutsy Girls: Young Women Who DareReview by Mary Davis
Meet 25 young women who have taken risks to explore their potential, whether in athletics, adventuring, research, paleontology, the military, oceanography, or other areas. Here are profiles of the women, along with their answers to the following: How I Got Started, Accomplishments, How I Stay Motivated, and My Future. Highlighted quotes are included, such as "Confidence is at least half of everything you do". Part Two of this book suggests ways to get your mind and your body in shape and lists a number of women who made history in the various fields talked about in the book. I would recommend this motivational book to grades 4-10.
Suplee, Curt, 1996, Prepared by the Nat’l Geographic Soc.
Everyday Science ExplainedReview by Mary Davis
I love this book! The wealth of fabulous photographs and humorous illustrations will inspire adult and child alike to pick it up and browse – to get information that will pique your interest for more in so many areas of science. The physics of matter and motion includes pictures of athletes of various sports, a baseball exploding through a window, people on the upswing of a corkscrew roller coaster, musicians, cream pies in the face, a microscopic look at the stickiness of Post-It notes, a child pulling a 6’ bubble across his lawn and more. Forces of nature are discussed with MRI and CAT scan images, a microscopic look at the surface of a CD, supermarket laser scanners and a laser show at Stone Mountain, x-rays and tanning beds, a surgeon using a high-powered microscope while performing surgery, contact lenses and eyeglasses bending light, etc. Chemistry and biology get their chapters also with marvelous pictures and illustrations of human and plant cells, diseases, changes and much more. This book does not have the detail of a reference book, but it makes a great coffee table resource to spark interest in searching out further information and to plant a seed to facilitate learning more in the classroom. Pictures truly are worth more than a thousand words, in this case. I highly recommend it for grades 5 and up.
Vare, Ethlie Ann and Greg Ptacek, 2002
Patently Female: From AZT to TV Dinners, Stories of Women Inventors and Their Breakthrough IdeasReview by Mary Davis
This book is a compilation of many inventions by females in various fields of interest: home, computers, medicine, earth, space, toys and more. Invention details are not included; the idea of the book is to give credit where it’s due and to inspire the females of today and tomorrow. A number of inventors were interviewed, and their quotes paint a picture of curiosity, perseverance and encouragement. For adults, this book may be fascinating (and eye-opening) cover to cover. Young adults may be more inclined to choose inventions to read about that may inspire further research (e.g., voice-controlled devices, cordless and disposable phones, computer gaming, virtual film set, etc.). There is a great chapter devoted to child inventors, a timeline of inventions by both males and females, and an appendix on patents: what they are, what can be patented, when you need one and how you get one. For more information on the same subject, check the authors’ “prequel” to this book, Mothers of Invention: From the Bra to the Bomb, Forgotten Women and Their Unforgettable Ideas, 1988.
A YOUNG PERSON’S GUIDE TO PHILOSOPHY: “ I Think, Therefore I Am”Review by Mary Davis
“Philosophy suggests ideas about what is not known. As times change there are always new questions.” Author Jeremy Weate’s love of philosophy and desire to spread interest in it beyond the universities inspired him to write this book for younger students. Here is a snapshot of 2,500 years of Western philosophy, with highlights of 25 well-known and not so famous philosophers.
Peter Lawman’s illustrations of the earlier philosophers and their environments help to personalize our understanding of their ideas and, together with the chronological order of the philosophers’ appearance on the scene, to see how philosophical beliefs are influenced by the available knowledge of the time. A later section of the book places the philosophers into their respective schools of philosophy, providing another framework for study.
While this text does not go into great detail, the philosophical concepts themselves are hardly trivial, and I would suggest that even though the illustrations may be of interest to grades 2-6, the text would better fit grades 4 and up. (Note: Amazon.com recommends this book to ages 4-8. Age 4 seems way too young for anything more than a cursory look at the pictures and some of the “call outs” with the pictures – not enough of a reason, in my estimation, to share this book with children that young. As an adult, I found it quite interesting, and I noted that a student who reviewed it on Amazon said it was helpful in some of his college courses.)
Enchanted Forest ChroniclesReview by Bjorn & LynMarie Berntson
Kids, need a good read? Try Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles [Dealing With Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling for Dragons, Talking to Dragons]. An intelligent, untraditional and spirited princess; a dragon with a palate for Cherries Jubilee; nasty wizards and clever references to familiar fairy tales weave a spell of fun for readers 8 and up.