Friday, September 21, 2001

Back to the books

These titles could help students and parents make the most of the new school year

By Shauna Scott Rhone
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Now that school has started, the flow of education-friendly books has gone from a trickle to a steady stream. Books for kids on being better students, books for adults on being better parents.

        This selection of some of the latest books could help make this a more fulfilling, more successful school year for all.

For Children:

        • Quick-but-Great Science Fair Projectsby Shar Levine and Leslie Johnstone (Sterling; $12.95)

        It aims to make projects fun and successful with advice on picking a topic, finding an expert and writing a letter asking for help, writing a report and presenting and displaying a project. Also included are tips on what judges look for and hints for teachers and parents. A terrific way for kids to learn and have something to show for it, whether it's their first or ninth project.

        • See For Yourself: More Than 100 Experiments for Science Fairs and Projects by Vicki Cobb, illustrated by Dave Klug (Scholastic Reference; $16.95)

        Everywhere you look, there are possibilities for science projects: the toy store, hardware store, even your own hands and eyes.

        Budding scientists will enjoy the fun and original projects and their parents will enjoy that the required materials come from familiar places like the drugstore and the supermarket.

        • The World Almanac for Kids 2002 (World Almanac Books; $11.95)

        “Terrific trivia” describes this book best. Fascinating facts on just about everything that piques kids' imaginations. The accompanying website is great for study times online. Puzzles, games, activities and jokes galore.

        Unfortunately, the book dates itself by including stuff like Benjamin Bratt as Julia Roberts' boyfriend, but most of the 336 pages are packed with a little bit about everything you've always wanted to know.

For Parents:

        • Bright Minds, Poor Grades: Understanding and Motivating Your Underachieving Childby Michael Whitley, Ph.D. (Perigee; $13.95)

        The author, a renowned clinical psychologist, offers a proven, 10-step program to motivate underachieving children. He believes most children know they should achieve in school, but are lacking the basic motivational skills needed for a successful school experience.

        The book covers common actions parents and educators take that fail to help underachievers, fundamental principles for parents and how to identify and understand the six different kinds of motivational patterns typical of the most common forms of underachievement.

        • Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children by Michael Thompson, Ph.D. and Catherine O'Neill Grace with Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D. (Ballentine Books, $24.95)

        Questions about kids' friendships and social development consumer parents every day. Does my child have good friends? Is he/she a bully or being bullied and why? Best Friends serves as a guide to parents and teachers for a deeper understanding of the motives and meanings od social behavior in children.

        The authors discuss how boys and girls deal in unique ways with intimacy and commitment, whether all kids need a “best friend,” how relationships in early childhood lay the foundation for strong friendships later on and the how and why of cliques.

        • Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children Through Early Adolescence by Laura Sessions Stepp (Riverhead Trade Paperbacks, $14)

        Children between the ages of 10 and 15 are an odd lot, developing physically at an unparalleled rate while hormones wreak havoc on their mental development. Best Shot asserts that this time of their lives is a parent's last opportunity to help their child become happy, loving and successful adults.

        The author compiles a cross-section of early adolescence in various situations to explore the social, emotional and intellectual dynamics of that tumultuous time. It offers positive, practical advice on how to help young teen-agers thrive.

        Yes, Your Teen is Crazy! Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind by Michael Bradley, Ph.D. (Harbor Press, $19.95)

        If your life adventure with your child has already advanced into their teen years, this book may help prevent a hair-pulling incident. The author acknowledges that teens are practically “crazy” because of the number of rapid-fire changes going on in a teen's mind as it hurdles toward maturation.

        Highlights include “The 10 Commandments of Parenting Your Teen,” “Surviving Your Kid's Rage” and “Your Adolescent's World: Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll Like You Never Saw.” A touching forward is written by the late actor Carroll O'Connor.


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