abcabcabc Favorites — Mommy Manders


Click here to view all my favorite books I have reviewed below!

  • Bright from the Start: The Simple, Science-Backed Way to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind from Birth to Age 3 by Jill Stamm (now in paperback). This book gave me the inspirational mantra, “What you teach from birth to three is what will matter most to me.” After being told over 30 years ago that her Downs daughter would not survive or thrive, Jill dedicated her life to researching brain development in children so that she could raise both of her daughters to their full potential, and it worked. She shares her findings and makes it easy as ABC: Attention, Bonding, and Communication, giving parents and caregivers simple ideas for developing these basic skills in children. This book is my favorite gift for all new parents!
  • Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Dr. Becky Bailey. I had the chance to hear Becky speak at a teacher’s convention years ago, and she has had a huge impact on my teaching and parenting. Based on a philosophy of “connection” and understanding brain development in children, she tackles some of the everyday struggles parents face with kids, from babies on up, and offers specific techniques and examples for handling such moments. It is pretty reflective and could almost count as therapy for any adult, parent or not, offering guidance for all of our relationships. Some might not get into all the reflection, but I find it fascinating and inspiring. I keep returning to this book for encouragement and “therapy” when things get tough. Also, I Love You Rituals by Becky Bailey, is full of easy, connection-building rhymes/ activities to incorporate into your home routines. When I was reading it, I remember eagerly waiting for MJ to wake up from a nap to try out these activities. My favorite “I Love You Ritual” comes from this book, and I’m trying to spread it to as many families as possible. Check out her website for Top 10 Discipline tips for parents.
  • Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting from Birth to Six Years by Jim Fay and Charles Fay. I know lots of parents who find this book helpful, and it is a fun, easy, quick read. I remember reading it aloud to Dustin on a road trip when MJ was just starting to show “independent” toddler tendencies. (Lord, we had no idea how much tougher 3 1/2 would be!) I say it’s fun because the example situations are funny and real, and you actually look forward to trying out all the positive choices opportunities. Warning: for a few weeks after reading this book, you’ll go around like a spy, finding yourself thinking at Target or the mall: “Oooh, he must be a love and logic parent.” or “Look at the way she’s loosing it! So NOT a love and logic parent.” And then a couple years later, like me, you realize you need to pick the book up again for a refresher!
  • The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease – This book will inspire you to make reading part of your familyʼs routine, suggest practical and creative ways for doing it. Full of interesting research and touching stories, this book will actually make you want to go out and read to children you don’t even know just to make the world a better place! I am so thankful that I read this book when MJ was just a baby because it caused us to make reading central to our house and to our family life on a daily basis from the start. We put accessible books in every room, we started taking trips to the library, we began reading for more than just bedtime, but also waking up, in the car, snack-time…any time! We started being intentional about reading in front of our children, and having silent reading time as a family. And I have to say, many of my favorite moments with my children have been because of books. As Dr. Seuss says, “The more you read, the more you know; and the more you know, the smarter you grow.”
  • Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. This New York Time’s Best-seller is now in paperback, and it’s a great read for moms and dads to experience together. Every Chapter is a new research-based revelation about raising chidren: praise, race, siblings,play, sleep, language, teenagers – just fascinating! Make is a summer project with your parenting partner…every week read a new chapter, then discuss on a date, or over beer and bug spray.
  • The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally by David Elkind. This book will help “ground” you in a culture of shiny, new, battery-operated (no, digital) TOYS! It will help you feel good about NOT buying stuff, and it will remind you of your own childhood play – outside with a kite, or playing in the mud with your neighbors, playing hopscotch on the playground, or making up super-hero scenarios and running around wearing a cape in the house. Somehow you had time for all of that free play – do your own kids? It will assure you that not only is this play “good enough” for our own kids, it’s actually superior for their development than constant “organized” activity, constant mechanical stimulus, constant “LEARNING”.
  • Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein. I loved this book, and found it very compelling as the mother of a young daughter. The author tackles a serious cultural and personal subject with humor and data. Like the author, I came into my daughter-parenting phase intent on avoiding “princess” themes and all the icky bubble-gum pink, not really sure why other than it just turns my stomach, I consider myself a good feminist, and I don’t want to stick her in a frilly box. (I am the same mother of the boy who cooks, plays with my make-up, and has been caught “nursing” his stuffed lion cub, Nala.) But unlike the author’s daughter, my 2-year-old Ellie is still mostly protected from external influences and messages from this “girlie-girl culture”. When the author’s daughter became immersed and sucked in at age 5, she began to do her research, and it is fascinating and alarming. Apparently the good reason to at least think before you leap into princess-land with your tutu and your wallet is that merchandisers and mainstream media have created a slippery slope for our little “princesses” that can lead to depression, eating disorders, distorted body image, and risky sexual behavior (this is according to the American Physcological Association), and these trends are on the rise in girls, even young girls. YIKES! Definitely worth educating yourself about, and forming your own strategy for daughter-parenting in these times…