I've just finished reading Raising America (and learning how to do links in a more elegant way). I read it for two reasons. First, it was recommended by Helen Levy, who has good taste in these things. Second, I find that straight up books about kids - we have one by Penelope Leach that was recommended by friends who study such things as well as the "What to Expect" book for toddlers - are simply too boring for me to read much of. So, I turn to the history of child-rearing advice, in the hope that the history will sugarcoat the boring child development material.
This is not really the correct book for what I wanted. It also failed to satisfy on other grounds. I would have liked to learn more about the extent to which the advice offered at the end of the 20th century was actually more firmly based on science than that offered at the start of the 20th century. One has the sense, reading between the lines to some extent, that the descriptive information is much, much better at the end of the century, but that in terms of treatment effects of particular practices - spanking, rigid feeding times, marginal attention from parents, letting kids cry themselves to sleep and so on - that precious little is still known. What I liked about the book was the biographies of the various pop child development experts, particularly Watson and Spock. The material about the recent rise in explicitly theological advice was interesting as well.
It's really quite easy.
1 year ago