The bookstores are filled with parenting manuals. I used to scoff at the entire genre. All a new mom had to do was follow her instincts, right? Generations of our maternal ancestors had successfully raised children without the benefit of Spock, Ferber or Sears. Surely I could manage too.
Like all childless women speculating about motherhood, I didn’t have a clue. After my first baby arrived, my instincts did indeed kick in, but I felt overwhelmed and began looking for literary support in spite of my former bravado. The following is a compilation of five books I’ve found especially helpful over the years. The last selection, Freedom of the Hills, is not a parenting manual and therefore might look a little out of place, but it’s the next step for us as a family due to our specific choice of sport: hiking.
The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby From Birth to Age Two by William Sears, M.D., and Martha Sears, R.N.
Given to me by a friend, this book provides excellent advice on how to promote and strengthen deep bonds of attachment between you and your baby. It not only informed me about healthy infant and toddler growth, it also taught me the value of a well-researched and well-written parenting text.
Learning All the Time by John Holt
John Holt was a former teacher, a strong supporter of school reform, an advocate of homeschooling, and a champion of children’s rights. He believed that children naturally want to learn, and that the less an adult attempts to control the process of learning, the better. I picked up this book on a whim at my local library when Alex was a toddler; by the time I finished reading it, I was convinced that K-12 education is best done at home and not in an institutionalized school setting.
A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
A Charlotte Mason Education introduced me to the philosophies of 19th century British educator Charlotte Mason. Mason believed in keeping young children outside as much as possible, and that kids are capable of learning a great number of subjects if the daily lessons are kept relatively short.
The Plug-In Drug: Television, Computers, and Family Life by Marie Winn
A hard look at television’s negative impact on children and families.
Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, edited by Steven M. Cox and Kris Fulsaas
This is the most respected text on mountaineering. Anything and everything one needs to know about hiking, climbing, and mountaineering can be found within these pages. This book is an invaluable resource for me and my daughters.