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Archives for : non-fiction

The Chicken Encyclopedia

The Chicken Encyclopedia: An Illustrated Reference by Gail Damerow comes out in a couple of weeks. As the title implies, it’s written in encyclopedia/dictionary format with topics alphabetized. It may seem strange to sit down to read an encyclopedia for entertainment puposes (unless you share genes with me), but I found the book to be quite informative and enjoyable to read. As someone interested in raising our own chickens for both eggs and meat, to live more sustainably and to have healthier food, this was a great place for me to start. I knew quite a bit about chickens to begin with, but I quickly realized there were many fascinating things I hadn’t known. With beautiful full color pictures and an easy to read format, the book is a must read to the new chicken fancier.

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Free Range Chicken Gardens

Jessi Bloom’s Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard, available at the end of January, is the quintessential book for chicken owners and gardeners alike. Chock full of information for the chicken novice, Bloom’s book makes a compelling argument for allowing chickens to free range in your garden to create a symbiotic environment benefitting plants, chickens, and their human counterparts. With pertinent and practical information, this inspirational book will have the urban or suburban (or even rural) gardener or chicken owner making the cross-over to a mutually beneficial and sustainable free range chicken garden.

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.

Previously posted at Living Peacefully with Children.

Made to Play!

If you are one of the many parents enthralled by simple handmade toys but are intimidated at the prospect of making them yourself, never fear! Joel Henriques will help get you started with the ideas in his new book coming out next October, Made to Play!: Handmade Toys and Crafts for Growing Imaginations.

Contrary to what companies may have you believe, children don’t need, nor truly want, lots of flashy toys which play by themselves (where is the fun in that, anyway?). Instead, simple toys which require healthy doses of imagination from the child open up realms of opportunity, creativity, and learning.

Craft challenged parents who previously felt left out when it came to making toys for their own children will be bolstered in this book, as the ideas are simple and easy for anyone to do. Turn a few supplies, often ones you already have on hand, into miniature toys that will delight your children and give you confidence to tackle more difficult projects.

Disclaimer: A copy of this book provided by Shambala Publications.

Previously posted at Living Peacefully with Children.

Scream Free Parenting

I read Hal Edward Runkel’s book, Scream Free Parenting, Sunday afternoon. I’ve heard the title bandied about on AP sites and wanted to check it out. I’m always on the look out for new consensual living books. I feel like I’m a better mother when I actively try to grow as a person and parent. My hold came in at the library last week, and so I picked it up on our weekly library run on Friday. Sunday afternoon was a lazy afternoon and a perfect time to catch up on some reading while watching the kids play.

I think the title could be a little off-putting, but I reserved any judgement on the book based on this. In all honestly, it’s a catchy title and therefore sets up a good marketing plan. I started off reading with high hopes, as I am getting ready to start our local NCP/CL book club back up after taking a break from it for a while. I was hoping that I could add this book into our discussions.

The book started out well. While there were a few references that had me stop in my tracks, I quickly realized they were there to appeal to a wider audience and that they weren’t actually part of the content of the book. Runkel makes a lot of good points. He mentions that the only person you can really control is yourself, and that by focusing on yourself and your words and actions, rather than on being reactive to situations, you can improve your communication and reltionship with your child.  He stresses that parenting itself is a way in which we can grow as people.  Runkel also discusses the difference between having a responsibility to our children rather than being responsible for our children. Children are people and need to be allowed to be their own persons. We have to remove ourselves from viewing them as an extension of ourselves. He has a lot of nice catch phrases in the book which are certain to appeal to many parents along with some genuinely good advice thrown in.

About 1/3 of the way through the book, as I was sending messages with a friend about restarting the book club, I mentioned that this might be a good book for us to discuss. At the end of each chapter, Runkel has even included reflection questions – perfect for a discussion group. And if I could package the first half of the book and market it by itself, I would recommend the book to every parent.

Unfortunately, half-way through the book Runkel changes course. He switches from the great advice and reminders he was giving parents to a much more authoritarian view of parenting, requiring that you set consequences and stick with them. It’s very punitive in nature and doesn’t allow for any discussion or cooperation between parent and child. In fact, I’m sure users of the infamous Love and Logic disciplinarian style would love the book.

So, for the book as a whole, I’d recommend you look around for another way to spend your afternoon. If you are willing to take what you want from the first half and discard the rest, it isn’t bad. Luckily, there are many really good books out there that are much better.

 

Previously published at Living Peacefully with Children.

The Five Love Languages of Children

The Five Love Languages of Children, by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, is not in and of itself a book about consensual living. It does skirt the issue of consensual living, though, and has merit for some parents. The book as a whole would be stronger if the authors had chosen to make the book either secular or religious, instead of their attempt at straddling both worlds. The outside of the book and publisher reviews make no reference to religious content. Single biblical references in each of the first two chapters lead to long Christian sections further in the book. Parents looking for a book without religious references will be sorely disappointed by the inclusion of religious references and opinion. Parents looking for a religious reference would be better served with a book that is straight forward regarding its references and position and which continues that theme throughout the entire book.

The book begins by addressing unconditional love, a term made more popular by Alfie Kohn. This is a concept often misunderstood by mainstream parents, and the authors clarify that while parents may always love their children, it’s the perception of the child that matters. This is an important distinction to make for parents. The concept of a love well, similar to Lawrence Cohen’s love cup, is also addressed at the beginning and utilized throughout the book. It is important that our children feel loved, and the book adequately addresses this fact. However, the beginning of the book, as well as various other parts, seem to meander around without clear focus, perhaps as a result of having two authors writing together; although other authors in a similar partnership, such as Faber and Mazlish, seem to do just fine with this approach.

The center portion of the book addresses what the authors refer to as the five love languages, defined by them as: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service. The love languages seem to be loosely based on neuro-linguistic programming, with an emphasis on communication. I can’t argue with the concept of good communication and conveying to your children that you love them unconditionally. However, the overall concept is better explored with non-violent communication and other books on connection parenting. The authors begin addressing the concept of authority and the training of children towards the end of this section.

The last third of the book focuses greatly on training your children properly with love. The concept of training children stems from the belief held by many conservative religions that children are inherently bad and that without our help, they are incapable of making good decisions. This is not a concept held by families practicing consensual living nor by the world of psychology in general. The authors go on to end the book by addressing how their particular religious beliefs affect their parenting and how it should affect yours.

I would recommend this book to Christian parents who aren’t quite on board with consensual living or non-coercive parenting, but who are looking for more gentle ways to interact with and communicate with their children. Consensually living families will find the concepts of unconditional love and the expression of such more adequately addressed in other books.

Previously posted at Living Peacefully with Children