Saturday, September 8, 2012

Competitive Parent Magazine's Parent Reading Guide

There are 3 books for GAT parenting that I think are mandatory reading.   Of course, by GAT, I mean the 80th to 90th percentile.   Parents with 99 percenters need a whole different set of books.

Nurture Shock (2003) by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.  You can read their blog to get a flavor of the content of this book.  This book is great to help you understand why the stuff you are doing to give your child an advantage (the nurture) is actually making him dumber (the shock).   This is an excellent book.

Welcome to Your Child's Brain (2011) by Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang.  These 2 researchers do a very thorough job in providing the latest research to help you teach your child to read, and then continue on through the rest of the developing years.  This is a great book for new parents, because it will help them not waste money on stupid stuff for their baby, or pointless activities that don't work.  You can see their blog as well.

Some of My Best Friends are Books (updated about every 5 years) by Judith Wynn Halsted.  This book discusses reading for children in depth and provides a reading list.   I know that doesn't sound like a big deal, but for the march from 80% to 99%, this is the most important thing you can concentrate on, until it's time to choose a college major, and then anything math or science related is fine.   Managing this portion of my child's education is probably my #1 and #2 priority.   I borrowed this from the library and am going to buy it.  

Real Education (2008) by Charles Murray.  You will love or hate this book based on your political persuasion.  However, there are a few sections in this book that discuss an education that a GAT kid would be challenged by and compares it to what most of them get.   This part is very motivating for a parent.  Unfortunately, the curriculum that he cites requires paying.  I'm trying to find a work around.

9-30-2014 Addition - The Well Trained Mind (1999 and later) by Susan Wise Bauer.  This is my favorite book.  Like Read Education, Bauer presents a very high bar for children's educational possibilities.  I've read the first 30 pages about 5 times for inspiration, and then perused the rest of the book to get a flavor for what my children could be learning.   Mental note to self - check this annually to see if the children's formal education is measuring up, and assign books as needed to close gaps.

1-31-2015 Addition - How Children Succeed (2012) by Paul Tough.   In the tradition of Welcome to Your Child's Brain, a journalist presents research on where regulated behavior (aka character) comes from and why it has a positive impact on your child's success.    Hug your kids!  (Note:  There's not a lot of hugging going on in any of my posts.  I tend to focus on other things in my writing.)

There are quite a few gifted books written by parents who try something new and end up with children who teach literature at the college and graduate levels.   If either of my children go to graduate school at Stanford, I too will publish.


  1. It's April 2014, and I'm struck by the irony of recommending a book by Charles Murray. His other book, the Bell Curve, was an abomination of bad science and bad statistics, perhaps the worst book ever and completely wrong an average of 12.2 times per page.

  2. Hi Norwood,

    This is Tracy (the mom of twin 5 year olds and an 8 year old that recently found your site). Now that I've read your complete blog and online book, I'm working my way through your recommended reading list. Hey you just aren't posting fast enough for my ability to consume content. So...would you still recommend Real Education? I loved Nurture Shock and ready many of the referenced articles and latest papers from the quoted researchers. I started Real Education this morning and have some question, so I came back to your blog to remind myself exactly what you said about it. Then I found the above comment. So...any further thoughts?


    1. What I like about Real Education is similar to what I like about The Well Trained Mind, which I think I have to add to this reading list. For a bumbling uneducated parent like me (abstracting from the graduate degrees and all of the reading) it was an eye opener to see exactly how high the bar can be for a child's education.

      For both of these books, I made a mental note to go back and reread these from time to time to see whether my children were learning all that they should be from school, or would I have to add some material to close gaps.

      Charles Murray has a great reading list and great views on education, but he thinks intelligence is primarily inherited, so on that note he's a moron and an ass. Intelligence is 100% learned and 0% inherited. Well, I guess we inherit a brain, but we only use 7% of it so everyone has inherited enough brain to be a genius.

  3. Thanks for the reply. What you touched on is exactly what I was struggling with when reading the book (almost done now). He is almost preachy in his view on intelligence. He never did address how foreign students could be so much further ahead with their schools vs. the US schools. If there was nothing that could be done to improve how much kids learn and can successfully apply, then how are the non-US schools able to succeed and churn out much more math and reading literate kids (and adults)?

    Maybe I'll try the Well Trained Mind next. It sounds more plausible from it's title :) Thanks again, still love your site. Although my husband is starting to get tired of hearing about the "Guru in Chicago" whose lists and data I have used to pattern our home-supplementing education.

    I have all 3 kids (5, 5 and 8) lined up at the kitchen counter each evening doing their worksheets before we eat dinner. Two months ago I was randomly selecting workbooks and activities for my 8 year old. I am now inspired and motivated enough to try tackling all 3 of them and have more direction to the evening activities. We're a month into the new all-3-of-them program and, other than some fatigue (mostly mine), things are going very well. There's so much reading and preparation each evening and I still have so much catching up to do. (We don't take Sundays off. We do double worksheet and reading sessions, once in the morning and once in the evening, on Saturday and Sunday. This will continue until we work through some of this great material and I see real and noticeable improvement. Maybe they can take Christmas day off.) I actually ditched all the (unused) cooking books on the shelf in my kitchen to make room for your highest rated material. When they're cheap and colorful, remember that I need to get 3 copies so each kid will have one to work through (otherwise I photocopy). It's a full bookshelf! Tracy