Monday, January 5, 2009

Books I've Been Reading

I haven't been blogging too much lately but I have been reading a lot! The cycles in life are interesting. Just as the nature world tends to have cycles, so do all of us. I'm in a bit of a slow, contemplative, back to the basics mood lately. I've been loving reading. I thought I'd share it with you all...

You are your child's first teacher : what parents can do with and for their children from birth to age six / by Rahima Baldwin Dancy.

This was such a great book to help me have more understanding of the Waldorf Method and I must say I really like the method a lot. Because I professionally have studied child development, I write a mommy blog, and I have always been interested in children I’ve read a lot of books about parenting/early childhood education. Let’s be honest…many of them are common sense or frankly BORING. Not this book, I loved every page of it and practically devoured it. I checked it out from the library, but love it so much that I plan on purchasing it. I can’t say that I am 100% Waldorf—in fact a lot of what I do with my daughter might be considered quite the opposite. I’m trying to provide her with an eclectic approach and tend to pull what I like from the different methods. However, I’m completely sold on the importance of creative and explorative play. When I first had my daughter and until somewhat recently I must admit that I felt such anxiety about not “advancing the development” of my child and did buy into Baby Einstein and ect. However, it wasn’t the “superbaby” part that I was really drawn to but the idea of developing creativity. Now, I do still do some flashcards and ect but ONLY if my daughter asks for them. The Waldorf method has such a better “feel” to it. It’s kind of like allowing your child to stay within the dreamworld just a little bit. My favorite chapters were “the development of fantasy and creative play”, “nourishing your childs imagination”, “developing your child’s artistic ability”, and “your child’s musical ability.”

I think I know why I love the book and Waldorf in general so very much. When I was a little girl I was very creative and spent a lot of time in imagination and wouldn’t trade those memories for the world. Most of my time was imagining playing with unicorns in the forest. This was a beautiful, beautiful time. If I would give my child any gift, it would be imagination and creativity. She has the rest of her life to live in reality. Anyway, Waldorf emphasizes movement, rhythm, fairy tales, art, and ect. If the method sounds interesting to you—this is the perfect book for you! I loved it and give it FIVE stars.

Montessori from the start : the child at home from birth to age three / Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen.

This book was decent, but I think I read it too late as so much of the focus seemed to be on babies. Also, I already knew most of the information in the book because I’ve been looking into Montessori for quite a while now. However, other reviews I’ve read about this book is that it doesn’t explain enough for those new to Montessori. Maybe there is just a problem with the explanations in general. I really wanted to learn more about the actual activities, but I’d say it is okay for someone just learning about Montessori. However, I didn’t read the sections that pertain to infants since I have a toddler. My understanding is that some of the advice is controversial—such as letting a baby cry it out (something I’m totally against and most research is too). I think it does a decent job of introducing the basic principles but I’m looking for a book about Montessori activities step-by-step.

The no-cry sleep solution for toddlers and preschoolers : gentle ways to stop bedtime battles and improve your child's sleep / Elizabeth Pantley.

I don’t think it was really that different from her book pertaining to infants. Honestly, I didn’t learn anything new. I already knew about having a consistent schedule and bedtime routine. However, it did make me feel better to realize I’m not the only one still struggling. My daughter is 2.5 years old and I’m still up 3-4 times a night with her. Not having sleep for this long is draining after a while. I’m still searching for that perfect solution…Great book for someone that hasn’t looked into helping their child sleep before…but after this long I can’t imagine that is the case. It did remind me of a few things such as the signs of a little one needing to take a nap.

The cloud atlas / Liam Callanan
This is NOT a book about parenting or for children, but I can’t resist because I enjoyed it so much.

This book is about a priest sitting by his dying friend, who happens to be a Shaman. Much of the book is set in Alaska during World War II. The main character is about a young man who was disposed of balloon bombs during the war. It turns out this really did happen, though I had never heard about this fascinating part of our history. It is hard to explain the book really and it isn’t the type that I usually read. I was afraid I’d be turned off by the war setting because that really isn’t my thing but I LOOOVVVEEDD this book. It is moving, dramatic, and was one of the best books I’ve read in a while.