Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday: “Nurture Shock” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

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Parenting books based on research–particularly recent research–are a nice break from polemics based on anecdotes and opinion. Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman is particularly worthwhile since its focus is teaching children, not disciplining them.

Read it to be in the know about stuff your parents might’ve been clueless about.

Key Takeaways

  • Don’t praise kids for their smarts, or they might think of intelligence as a fixed feature and become afraid to try new things. Instead, praise them for effort and persistence, showing them that intelligence can be developed and motivating them to take on difficult challenges.
  • Kids who get even fifteen more minutes of sleep per night on average do much better in school.
  • Do talk to your kids about race. Kids are constantly looking for differences. They want to belong, so they often exclude others unless told not to.
  • All kids lie. See untruth telling as teachable moments, not moral failure.
  • Teach kids to interact with siblings in much the same way they interact with friends.

In addition, here are some tips for helping a baby learn how to speak:

  • Words should accompany interaction, especially facial cues. TV doesn’t help with this.
  • Follow the baby’s lead. Say the words for items they’re showing interest in, when the internal motivation to learn the word is already present.
  • For small babies, wiggle a toy or object to draw attention before naming it. 
  • Incorporate common sentences with new words.
  • Say the same idea in different words.
  • Respond to almost all vocalization in same way, teaching the child they’ll affect you in predictable ways by their sounds.

About the Authors

Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman are American journalists and authors, known for their work in popularizing research in social and behavioral sciences. They co-authored the books Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children and Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing, which explore topics such as parenting, education, and competition. Their writing has been featured in many media outlets, including The New York Times, Time, and Newsweek.


Can’t quite get to all the nonfiction and self-help books that interest you? Read Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday here.


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