Review: This book is alternately extremely interesting and incredibly boring. It’s fairly dense and pretty time-consuming (definitely not a one night read), but I agree with most of the information and advice provided. Some of the recommendations I think are both important and not obvious (i.e. you shouldn’t label your kid smart, you should emphasize the importance of hard work over natural intelligence). However other advice, while sound, is overly obvious. For example, there are chapters on the importance of exercise and nutrition. Maybe both of these areas are more critical to brain development than one might naturally think, but when the book is so long to begin with, do we really need entire chapters devoted to telling us to make sure our kids exercise, eat well, sleep enough, and don’t spend all day playing video games and texting? I think the advice is good; it just could have been condensed to make it more accessible to a busy parent.
One chapter that stuck out in particular as being worth reading discussed the hormones and brain functioning of teenagers. I don’t have teenagers yet, but I do think the author would be particularly helpful and reassuring to a parent of a teenager. He has a whole other book on the subject (Why Do They Act That Way) that I’ll definitely be reading as my kids enter adolescence. Another section I thought was particularly interesting was the chapter on play and imagination. As a firm supporter of imaginative play who sends her preschooler to a Montessori school where fantasy is discouraged in the classroom, I’m constantly trying to reconcile these two seemingly conflicting schools of thought. This book doesn’t sway me against Montessori philosophy, but it does at least back up my deep-seated belief that play is critical in the development of intelligence and creativity, much more so than “academic” skills like reading, writing, and arithmetic. (Personal Rating: 8/10)