Book reviews - books for parents & teachers (page 2)

Here are books that can help parents in bringing up and teaching their children, and books for teachers to use in the classroom. The inclusion of books does not constitute a recommendation from Parents in Touch to apply particular techniques or theories - we have just reviewed a cross-section of the titles which we have been offered for review. Check out our Bloomsbury Books page too, as well as the excellent resources from Brilliant Publications.

Starving the Exam Stress Gremlin by Kate Collins-Donnelly

The subtitle of the book sums it up perfectly - a cognitive behaviourat therapy workbook on managing stress for young people. It's a title that will immediately draw the attention of parents who want to help their teens manage the stress of exams, and a title that will draw in young people. The immediate impact of the book lies in its user-friendly presentation, with cartoons, speech bubbles and plenty of space for readers to write in. The book is based on the fact that fear feeds fear, and the more stressed and worried young people become, so the exam stress gremlin gets bigger and bigger. But the book clearly shows that he can be stopped. Starve him of stress-related thoughts, feelings and behaviours and stress will fade away. Packed with engaging activities, this self-help workbook explains what exam stress is, how it develops and the impact it can have - providing the reader with an understanding of their own exam stress. Rooted in cognitive behavioural therapy, it is also bursting with strategies to help the reader manage their exam stress by changing how they think and act. Teachers will find this an excellent book too, helping them support their pupils. Practical, friendly and approachable - highly recommended.

Achtung Baby: the German Art of Raising Self-Reliuant Children by Sara Zaske

In Germany, children have greater freedom that many other Western countries. Through her own family's often funny experiences as well as interviews with other parents, teachers, and experts, the author shares the many unexpected parenting lessons she learned from living in Germany. Achtung Baby reveals that today's Germans know something that other parents don't (or have perhaps forgotten) about raising children to be self-reliant. It is a book that will really make parents think about why we act in the way we do, and it provides plenty of stimulating food for thought and challenges for preconceptions. Parents everywhere can use the thoughts and ideas to encourage them to think about the freedom their own children have. Interesting and insightful, it's a fascinating look at one family's way of life.

Outsmarting Worry: An Older Kid's Guide to Managing Anxiety by Dawn Huebner

It's a sad reflection of life today that children's anxiety is a real and increasing cause for concern. What starts off as a minor concern has a nasty of habit of escalating very quickly into something far more serious and as adults, we need to do all we can to stop this in its tracks - and that's where this practical book will help. One of the problems with worry is the behaviour it produces, which can spiral into a way of causing even more worry. Outsmarting Worry shows 9-13 year olds, and the adults who care for them, a specific set of skills that makes it easier to face and overcome worries and fears. Practical proven techniques are presented in language immediately accessible to children with an emphasis on shifting from knowing to doing, from worried to happy and free. It provides an excellent springboard for discussion and helps the recognition of problems. The lively presentation, not too text-heavy, and with cartoon-style illustrations, makes this a very accessible book.

The Forever Letter: Writing What We Believe for Those We Love by Elana Zaiman

This is not a book about 'ordinary' letter writing. It is a very unusual book about the 'forever letter', a message to impart your values, articulate your feelings, and deepen relationships. Elana Zaiman transforms the little known Jewish tradition of writing an ethical will into an important tool for anyone to use. This simple and engaging book shows you not only the origins of this tradition, but also gives specific, practical guidance and encouragement on writing your own letter. You ll discover the author's personal stories; examples from her forever letter workshops; and related wisdom from literature, philosophy, and psychology.

Developing Empathy in the Early Years: A Guide for Practitioners by Helen Garnett

Research-based and full of practical applications, this is a book that really brings the child to the forefront of how practitioners care for children. Empathy allows us to connect with others, helping generate happiness and success; it is something we all need to develop so there is plenty here for us all to learn from. Children have the power to grow and re-build their natural empathy and this is an excellent trait to develop from a young age. This guide is for early years professionals, providing them with the tools to make empathy the foundation for their work. It reveals where the roots of empathy lie, how to prioritise it in practice, and how it manifests itself in young developing brains. It is well written and easy to follow, with plenty of background material. The book is well supported by extensive references which will help those who want to look into the subject in more depth.

I Don't Like Reading by Lisabeth Emlyn Clark

Harry doesn't like reading - he prefers to be active, playing football, climbing trees, and being with friends. He worries about reading, until his teacher explains that Harry has dyslexia, which makes things like reading and writing particularly hard for him. This picture shows how specific strategies for reading with dyslexia help Harry and give him back his confidence. Although the book is a picture book for children, I have reviewed it with books for parents and teachers to bring it to their attention, as it is valuable for helping children understand dyslexia.

Inside Out Parenting: How to Build Strong Children from a Core of Self-Esteem by Holan Liang

This practical book takes a new look at parenting, turning around many pre-conceived ideas. It works from the premise that what comes from within is important, and that the key is building a core of self-esteem, resilience and social ability.The book blends science from a research and professional point of view, memoirs and hands-on anecdotal evidence, bringing a very readable book. It doesn't claim perfection but offers a balance of top tips and failed attempts. Liang offers an empowering and holistic approach to parenting that champions building a strong base of 'inside things' so that the 'outside things', such as achievement in musical exams and academia, have a strong foundation and core of security, giving them a deeper meaning for your child. A fascinating approach which has much to offer.

Autism in My Family by Catherine Faherty

Sibling relationshios can be challenging at the best of times, but when one child is autistic and demands a great deal of the family attention, life can get tough for the rest of the family. This interactive workbook is specifically designed for siblings of children with autism. Ii can be hard for these children, especially when young, to understand autism, but this book does an excellent job, by introducing the experience of autism in simple language. It shows children that they are not alone, and through activities that identify differences and strengthen relationships, siblings will be empowered to cope with challenges in a positive way, whilst offering support to their autistic sibling. This book focuses on understanding and supporting a sibling while developing individual emotions and identity. The pages are designed to be drawn on and personalised by the child, letting them feel in full control. Ideal for young children aged 8-12 who have a sibling with autism, the activities can be completed with a parent's guidance or on their own. Full of resources, strategies, and exercises, this workbook can support professionals working with children and facilitate healthy sibling relationships. An excellent book which is really practical and supportive; excellent to see such a book for young people.

A Girl Like Tilly: Growing up with Autism by Helen Bates

If you really want to know how it feels growing up as a girl with autism - and to have a really positive spin on it - then this is the book for you. Based on true life experience, it is the story of a girl who is bright yet is struggling at school, hates the unexpected, struggles with friendships - and isn't even sure if she's a girl or a boy. Life is hard work. Growing up undiagnosed, Tilly finds life increasingly difficult and withdraws into her own world. With vividly expressive illustrations and minimal words, this story is a valuable and accessible tool for helping children aged 7-13 and their families understand female autism, and will also be immensely helpful to readers interested in understanding better how autism manifests in girls. Ultimately, it is a positive and upbuilding read which will give anyone, autism in the family or not, a better understanding - and hopefully early diagnosis and help..

Adopting: Real Life Stories by Ann Morris

Real life experiences cannot be bettered when discussing such an important topic - theory is all very well, but it is the people who have been through the experience of adoption, whether as adopter or adoptee (or working with adopted children), which gets to the heart of the issue. With more than 70 real life stories, this is a book which covers a huge range of experiences, all excellently and sometimes poignantly, expressed. They read easily, written as stories and take the reader on a journey through every stage of the adoption process. It includes chapters on adopting children of all ages as well as sibling groups; adopting as a single parent; adopting as a same sex couple; adopting emotionally and physically abused children; the nightmare of adoption breaking down; contact with birth parents; tracing and social media and more. The range is exceptional, and there really is something for everyone. Even as one with no experience of adoption, I felt enlightened by this very readable book.

Striker, Slow Down!: A calming book for children who are always on the go by Emma Hughes

I choose to put this book with books for adults, as it really does merit adult input and sharing to help children get the most out of it. Told as the story of Striker the unstoppable cat, children will relate to the character without feeling threatened. Striker never slows down until a bump to the head brings this busy cat to a standstill. Will Striker finally listen to his mama and learn to make time for a little calmness? With its lively and child-friendly illustrations, this picture book for ages 3-6 aims to teach busy children about the benefits of taking time to sit quietly and clear their mind. Touching on the principles of mindfulness, it provides the perfect introduction to the differing feelings of chaos and calm and encourages children to find balance in their increasingly busy lives. Simple and effective.

Better Play by Alison Woolf

Play is absolutely fundamental to learning in schools, so I was delighted to be asked to review a book which focuses totally on play - and play right into adolescence. Better Play will help teachers to think about how supporting play in schools can make for better relationships and for better learning - and it's packed with ideas that can be used to encourage sceptical peers to make play part of their everyday routine. Play in schools certainly does not cease to matter after the Early Years, as this book shows. Reading this book will remind you that play matters for everyone, and is important for different reasons at different times in our lives. Are you unsure how to support play in and out of our classrooms? Better Play! offers practical strategies for school staff across Primary, Secondary and Alternative Learning settings. It helps with supporting emotional well-being and under proper supervision can help to counteract bullying. It's a shame (speaking as an indexer) that the index has errors - it does undermine a book's credibility. However, this is an excellent book, clearly laid out with consistent topics through the chapters - an excellent staffroom resource.

Mindful Games: Sharing Mindfulness and Meditation with Children, Teens, and Families by Susan Kaiser Greenland

Mindfulness is a real hot topic at the moment, and whether or not your practise the techniques, this book is bound to have some ideas that teachers and parents can put to good use. The book contains sixty simple games to develop attention and focus, and identify and regulate emotions. Playing games is a good way for children to develop their focusing and attention skills. Susan Kaiser Greenland has had a lot of success bringing mindfulness to the classroom, and in this book she shares her experience, showing how parents, caregivers, and teachers can cultivate these qualities at home or in a school setting. There are plenty of variations on each game, giving teachers and parents lots of ideas to customise the activities to their needs.

Yoga Way to Radiance: How to Follow Your Inner Guidance and Nurture Children to Do the Same by Shakta Kaur Khalsa

Shakta Khalsa is a world-leading expert on yoga. This comprehensive book uses ancient wisdom, inspiring stories, and helpful practices like yoga and meditation. It claims to show the reader how to reclaim the authentic self and how to nurture the same in children through conscious parenting and teaching. Each chapter uses yoga-based tools to help the reader embrace their inner guidance, live with wonder and joy, and mirror that to children. Learn how to be mindfully present, trust your intuition, and honour the authentic self. With Shakta Khalsa's guidance, it offers one way to discover the keys to building a rich, happy, and ever-evolving existence for you and the children in your life.

The Parents' Guide to Specific Learning Difficulties: Information, Advice and Practical Tips by Veronica Bidwell

It will be a worrying time for parents when they are told their child has learning difficulties, but this reassuring book will help and guide them so their child can have the best possible outcome. It's an eminently practical book, with plenty of advice and practical strategies. The case studies which appear liberally throughout the book not only offer practical advice which is tried and trusted, but also show parents that they are not alone. Part one introduces a spectrum of SpLDs, including poor working memory, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), Specific Language Impairment and Visual Processing Difficulty - it's comprehensive and thorough. It explains clearly what each difficulty is, how it can affect a child's learning and how to help a child to succeed despite their difficulties. Part two includes a host of tips, tools and strategies to support your child's efforts in areas such as reading, writing, spelling and handwriting, as well as advice on motivation, confidence and managing life's setbacks. The author is an experienced Educational Psychologist and she writes directly to the parents, ensuring they fully understand the issues discussed. The book is not just for parents, despite the title - it will also prove invaluable to teachers who are increasingly finding they are dealing with children with a wide range of SpLDs within mainstream classes - it will help them to differentiate lessons and motivate pupils with SpLDs. Clear, easy-to-read - definitely a must-have for all parents who want to understand their child's needs fully, and give them all the support they can; the information of each SpLD is really comprehensive and enlightening; it will also help parents when speaking to teachers - and teachers when speaking to parents.

The A to Z of ASDs: Aunt Aspie's Guide to Life by Rudy Simone

  "The A to Z of ASDs is a one-stop shop for adults on the autism spectrum in the form of an alphabetical guide to an array of challenging topics. From anxiety to zen meditation, compassion to self-esteem, dating to socializing (and everything in between), Aunt Aspie's wisdom and witty one-liners offer helpful advice for serious subjects. With tried-and-tested tips, Aunt Aspie shares some of the tough life lessons she's learnt so you can avoid making the same mistakes, and make informed choices on the issues that matter. Sometimes philosophical, often light-hearted and always informative, the practical information in this book will help you to navigate tricky life issues, and enable you to think through the more challenging questions facing people with ASDs." Product information from publisher.

Successful Social Stories for Young Children (Growing Up with Social StoriesTM) by Siobhan Timmins

You may be asking "What are social stories?" "Social storiesTM were created by Carol Gray in 1991 to help teach social skills to people on the autism spectrum. They are short descriptions of a particular situation, event or activity, which include specific information about what to expect in that situation and why." They are acknowledged as a very successful way of teaching concepts and social understanding to children with autism spectrum disorders. The problem is, however, the writing of successful stories - and that is where this book is so valuable. With its clear and engaging presentation, the book introduces a range of ways of thinking about the issues your child finds difficult; this is a valuable insight and really helps parents understand this disorder which can be so hard to comprehend without expert help. The book includes 32 illustrated stories created by Dr Siobhan Timmins for her son during his early years, with helpful explanations of how she did it, and what the underlying thinking was behind each set of stories, so adults know just what is right for each situation. The author explains how the stories build upon each other to help the child to understand further, more complex topics, and how to see the connections so that you can best help your child. From basic skills such as learning to listen, wait and share, to common fears, this book takes the mystery out of creating effective Social Stories™ and clearly demonstrates how to put together a cohesive set of stories which your child can understand and relate to. The personal approach, based on the author's own experiences, will really resonate with parents who will find the book easy to read and act on.

Secret, Secret by Daisy Law

Just put yourself in a child's place and imagine how confusing secrets can be. This book gives parents an excellent way in to discussing secrets of all sorts with their children. The book is told through simple rhymes which accompany far more complex pictures. It shows children that there are big secrets, small secrets, ones you'd never tell, ones you want to tell, ones you keep locked up, or hidden under your bed. There are ones that make you smile, and others that make you scared. It is the pictures that will really stimulate discussion, as the each tell a story whilst leaving options open. The book explores the different types of secrets children may have, and encourages them to feel confident to share their secrets. It will be perfect for adults, teachers and parents, to facilitate discussion with any child aged 3-7 who has trouble opening up and provides a great opportunity for discussing the things we should and shouldn't keep secret. The book also includes a section at the end for adults on how to respond to disclosures. Subtle yet powerful.

Flying Starts for Unique Children by Adele Devine

Giving all children a good first impression of school can make all the difference to their entire school experience; it's just as important for children with SEN and autism but there is less guidance out there to help teachers. This book will really help teachers who are increasingly dealing with SEN and autism in mainstream schools as well as within special schools. It covers essential topics such as working with parents, supporting transitions between home and school, helping children with sensory issues to cope in a stimulating classroom, teaching waiting and patience skills, using visual teaching methods, understanding behaviour, promoting independence and much more. Case studies and practical examples show exactly how a truly inclusive classroom can be achieved, by demonstrating how a range of situations are experienced from the child's perspective. Designed to be perfect for dipping into and referring back to as problems arise, this book is a fantastic resource for busy educators. It is full of case studies, and these practical examples are particularly useful.





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