The First 1,000 Days

The First 1,000 Days: A Crucial Time for Mothers and Children – and the World by Roger Thurow

RJ 216 .T48 2016

“‘Your child can achieve great things.’

A few years ago, pregnant women in four corners of the world heard those words and hoped they could be true. Among them were Esther Okwir in rural Uganda, where the infant mortality rate is among the highest in the world; Jessica Saldana, a high school student in a violence-scarred Chicago neighborhood; Shyamkali, the mother of four girls in a low-caste village in India; and Maria Estella, in Guatemala’s western highlands, where most people are riddled with parasites and moms can rarely afford the fresh vegetables they farm.

Greatness? It was an audacious thought, given their circumstances. But they had new cause to be hopeful: they were participating in an unprecedented international initiative designed to transform their lives, the lives of their children, and ultimately the world. The 1,000 Days movement, a response to recent, devastating food crises and new research on the economic and social costs of childhood hunger and stunting, is focused on providing proper nutrition during the first 1,000 days of children’s lives, beginning with their mother’s pregnancy. Proper nutrition during these days can profoundly influence an individual’s ability to grow, learn, and work – and determine a society’s long-term health and prosperity.

In this inspiring, sometimes heartbreaking book, Roger Thurow takes us into the lives of families on the forefront of the movement to illuminate the science, economics, and politics of malnutrition, charting the exciting progress of this global effort and the formidable challenges it still faces: economic injustice, disease, lack of education and sanitation, misogyny, and corruption.”
– publisher description

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The Importance of Being Little

The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups by Erika Christakis

LB 1140.35 .P37 C47 2016

“To a four-year-old watching bulldozers at a construction site or chasing butterflies in flight, the world is awash with promise. Little children come into the world hardwired to learn in virtually any setting and about any matter. Yet in today’s preschool and kindergarten classrooms learning has been reduced to scripted lessons and suspect metrics that too often undervalue a child’s intelligence while overtaxing the child’s growing brain. These mismatched expectations wreak havoc on the family: parents fear that if they choose the “wrong” program, their child won’t get into the “right” college. But Yale early childhood expert Erika Christakis says our fears are wildly misplaced. Our anxiety about our children’s futures has reached a fever pitch at a time when, ironically, science gives us more certainty than ever before that young children are exceptionally strong thinkers.

In her pathbreaking book, Christakis explains what it’s like to be a young child in America today, in a world designed by and for adults, where we have confused schooling with learning. She offers nuanced, real-life solutions to real-life issues that move past the usual prescriptions for fewer tests, more play. She looks at children’s use of language, their artistic expressions, the way their imaginations grow, and how they build deep emotional bonds to stretch the boundaries of their small worlds. Rather than clutter their worlds with more and more stuff, sometimes our wisest course is to learn how to get out of their way.

Christakis’s message is energizing and reassuring: young children are inherently powerful, and they (and their parents) will flourish if we can revitalize the early learning environment. Her bold and pragmatic challenge to the conventional wisdom peels back the mystery of childhood, revealing a place that’s rich with possibility.”
– publisher description

Raising the World

Raising the World

Raising the World: Child Welfare in the American Century by Sara Fieldston

HV 881 .F52 2015

“After World War II, American organizations launched efforts to improve the lives of foreign children, from war orphans in Europe and Japan to impoverished youth in the developing world. Providing material aid, education, and emotional support, these programs had a deep humanitarian underpinning. But they were also political projects. Sara Fieldston’s comprehensive account Raising the World shows that the influence of child welfare agencies around the globe contributed to the United States’ expanding hegemony. These organizations filtered American power through the prism of familial love and shaped perceptions of the United States as the benevolent parent in a family of nations.

The American Friends Service Committee, Foster Parents’ Plan, and Christian Children’s Fund, among others, sent experts abroad to build nursery schools and orphanages and to instruct parents in modern theories of child rearing and personality development. Back home, thousands of others “sponsored” overseas children by sending money and exchanging often-intimate letters. Although driven by sincere impulses and sometimes fostering durable friendships, such efforts doubled as a form of social engineering. Americans believed that child rearing could prevent the rise of future dictators, curb the appeal of communism, and facilitate economic development around the world.

By the 1970s, child welfare agencies had to adjust to a new world in which American power was increasingly suspect. But even as volunteers reconsidered the project of reshaping foreign societies, a perceived universality of children’s needs continued to justify intervention by Americans into young lives across the globe.”
– publisher description

Born Reading

Born Reading

Born Reading: Bringing up Bookworms in a Digital Age – From Picture Books to eBooks and Everything in Between by Jason Boog

LB 1050 .B58 2014

“Experts say that reading to your child is just as important a determining factor of IQ as taking vitamins or eating a healthy diet. But reading is about more than just a score on a standardized test. With Born Reading, you’ll learn how to raise children who not only can read but who love to read. . . and who will take that love of reading with them into the future.

Publishing insider (and dad) Jason Boog has interviewed the experts – librarians, publishers, bestselling authors, brain scientists, and child psychologists, as well as app developers who are coming up with the next generation of reading tools – to show how parents can introduce a love of reading from an early age, and how cutting-edge technology can complement classic books to engage young readers in a whole new way.”
– publisher description

Between Light and Shadow: A Guatemalan Girl’s Journey through Adoption

Between Light and Shadow: A Guatemalan Girl’s Journey through Adoption by Jacob Wheeler

HV 875.58 .G9 W44 2011

“In Between Light and Shadow veteran journalist Jacob Wheeler puts a human face on the Guatemalan adoption industry, which has exploited, embraced, and sincerely sought to improve the lives of the Central American nation’s poorest children.  Fourteen-year-old Ellie, abandoned at age seven and adopted by a middle-class family from Michigan, is at the center of this story.  Wheeler re-creates the painful circumstances of Ellie’s abandonment, her adoption and Americanization, her search for her birth mother, and her joyous and haunting return to Guatemala, where she finds her teenage brothers – unleashing a bond that transcends language and national borders.

Following Ellie’s journey, Wheeler peels back the layers of an adoption economy that some view as an unscrupulous baby-selling industry that manipulates impoverished indigenous Guatemalan women, and others herald as the only chance for poor children to have a better life.  Through Ellie, Wheeler allows us to see what all this means in personal and practical terms – and to understand how well-intentioned and sometimes humanitarian first-world wealth can collide with the extreme poverty, despair, misogyny, racism, and violent history of Guatemala.” – publisher description

The Monster Within: The Hidden Side of Motherhood

The Monster Within: The Hidden Side of Motherhood by Barbara Almond

HQ 759 .A436 2010

“Whether they involve uncertainty over having a child, fears of pregnancy and childbirth, or negative thoughts about one’s own children, mixed feelings about motherhood are not just hard to discuss, they are a powerful social taboo.  In this beautifully written book, Barbara Almond draws on her extensive clinical experience to bring this troubling issue to light.  In a compelling portrait of the hidden side of contemporary motherhood, she finds that ambivalence of varying degrees is a ubiquitous phenomenon but one that often causes anxiety, guilt, and depression.  Weaving together case histories with rich examples from literature and popular culture, Almond describes a spectrum of maternal behavior – from normal feelings to highly disturbed mothering characterized by blame, misuse, abuse, and even child murder.  To a society in which perfection in parenting is an unattainable ideal, this compassionate book offers prescriptions for relief by showing women how they can effect positive change in their lives.” – publisher description

Gender Dilemmas in Children’s Fiction

Gender Dilemmas in Children’s Fiction by Kerry Mallan

PR 830 .C513 M36 2009

Gender Dilemmas in Children’s Fiction is a lively and engaging study that examines how fictional texts – picture books, novels, and films – produced for children and young adults are responding to the tensions and dilemmas that arise from new gender relations and sexual differences.  In discussing a diverse range of international children’s fiction published between 1990 and 2008, Kerry Mallan offers an insightful discussion of some of the key dilemmas that emerge from the texts’ treatment of romance, beauty, cyberbodies, queer, and comedy.  This text confirms the importance of children’s fiction in offering its readers and viewers varying, imagined accounts of how children and young people see the world and their place in it.  By drawing on an extensive knowledge of children’s texts and critical works, this book makes a significant contribution to productive dialogues about children’s fiction, theory, and contemporary debates around issues of gender and sexuality.” – publisher description