May Book Reviews (part 1 of 2)

Nurturing Good Children Now - Dr. Ron Taffel
I picked up this little gem at a used bookstore in Long Beach at the beginning of the month, thinking it would be good to read on the deck of our cruise ship. I ended up devouring the information. Each chapter focuses on a concept that, if developed, will help kids develop a strong core and withstand destructive influences in our society. My favorite chapters included #1 Mood Mastery: Teach your child to soothe himself in healthy ways that match his temperament; #4 Passion: Protect your child's enthusiasm and love of life; and #6 Focus: Help your child pay attention and to love learning.
Dr. Taffel emphasizes each child's uniqueness and potential. Our job as parents is to provide a strong set of values as a framework, while respecting our children's individual temperaments and learning styles. The author gives us hope that we can (and indeed, must) have a powerful voice in our children's development.

Excerpt from the introduction:
"Given the conflicting messages and demands of our times, how can we make sure our children will turn out to be good solid kids who are strong enough to survive and thrive in the world? Even the parents of very young children increasingly fear that their skills and authority are being challenged by cultural influences outside the family. It used to be that mothers and fathers would focus exclusively on the 'best' parenting technique. Today, they frequently ask a question that reflects their additional concern: 'How can I keep and support my child's goodness in the face of what's going on out there?"

Wild Swans - Jung Chang
My grandmother gave me this book when Dan graduated from his Chinese program. I have hardly been able to put it down and just finished last night. I learned so much about China and the Chinese people. Covering nearly seventy years of volatile history, Wild Swans follows three generations of Chinese women, from the grandmother whose feet were bound and life was sold as a concubine to a powerful war-lord, to the mother who became a powerful communist official, and the daughter who saw everything she loved destroyed by Maoist thought.
I would highly recommend this book to everyone. There is no better way to learn history than through the eyes of those who lived it and this book paints the modern history of China in broad, passionate strokes. I was most moved by the descriptions of the Cultural Revolution, in which almost everything beautiful and praise worthy in China was destroyed. I gained deeper insight into the power of the mind in creating reality, as the Communist propaganda machine told the starving, tortured, war torn country, "Be grateful to live in our communist paradise; feel sorry for those living in the West."