Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Professional Resources: Books to Make Time For

I have recently made a commitment to my own personal professional development by making time to read again. And, not just read for fun (although it's important to have time for that, too), but to read professional resources in the form of books. Because I have a job that requires I spent a lot of time in my car, and I listen to audiobooks regularly which is a great way to "find time" to read. I also create as much time as possible even if it's just five minutes an evening to read a book in my hands the old-fashioned way. On occasion I try to read a journal article or two, but I am finding that complete books on a topic of interest to my profession are intriguing and important to my work.

photo of: Dr. Ellaine Miller's Professional Reading Recommendations for Early Childhood at PreK+K Sharing

What I have for you in today's blog entry is a kind of annotated bibliography -- one book I have read;  one I am reading now; and one that I have in my "must be read" stack. Perhaps this will be the beginning of a series!

"The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook -- What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing" 
by Dr. Bruce Perry & Maia Szalavitz (2007).
 If you make time for any book, make time for this one.  While it's true that Dr. Perry is my "rock star," this pivotal expose and sensitive sharing of his own professional development through his work with children of trauma can change the way you perceive and work with children.  It is a tremendously easy read for non-science people. Through his work with traumatized children (think of the Branch Davidian children in Waco; children of the worst orphanages in the world; and those beaten, abused, and abandoned), Dr. Perry explores the brain, critical periods of development, the importance of the attachment relationship, the development of the mental health profession with children, and his own development of the neurosequential model of therapy.

Dr. Perry share his experiences with several of his clients and work assignments and brings us along his own growth and development in the practice of child psychiatry. Through his work with a "failure to thrive" child, the treatment pattern for these children moved from a purely medical model to an interpersonal relationship model. Dr. Perry shares his stories of working with the Brand Davidian children in Waco, TX; children of a parent with Munchausen's by proxy syndrome; adolescent psychopathic killers; and more. What happens when a child is raised in a cage as part of a kennel with only dogs to interact with most of the day? Dr. Perry explains what happens to the brain under these extreme circumstances, his innovative methods for helping these children (when they can be helped), and how we can all work for the benefit of the children in our care. "What maltreated and traumatized children most need is a healthy community to buffer the pain, distress, and loss caused by their earlier trauma. What works to heal them is anything that increases the number and quality of a chid's relationships. What helps is consistent, patient, repetitive loving care."

The audio version of this book take about 10 hours to listen to.

"Women Who Think Too Much: How to Break Free of Overthinking and Reclaim Your Life"
Susan Nolen-Hoeksema (2003)

I have only just started reading this book, and already I feel it was modeled on my life! While I have learned many techniques to quiet the mind at least enough to sleep through the night most nights of the week, the author offers 29 proven strategies for ending worrying and overthinking. Several years ago I attended a workshop session in which the presenter showed us MRI scans from an experiment about brain activity. Men and women were brought into the scan room and told not to think about anything during the scan. The male brain scans showed a dark, inactive brain with a single point of light (other than basic autonomic functions like breathing). That single point of light was the sex center of the brain (lol!!). The female brain scans showed lots of light all over the brain. Both men and women were explicitly instructed not to think about anything, and they reported not thinking about anything. However, the female brain "at rest" is hardly resting!
My daughter recently shared this on my facebook page. Can any of you relate?

Nolen-Hoeksema provides these 29 self-help skills based on her research at Yale to help you stop worrying, reviewing, and basically obsessing about everything and anything in your life. Fundamental issues are addressed such as, "Who am I?" "What am I doing with my life?" "What do others think of me?" "Is my son taking drugs?" "Why am I still in the same dead-end job?" "How am I going to keep my spouse interested in me?" And so on, and so on, and so on. Learn along with me more techniques to bring calm and serenity into your life. 

"Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Really Learn and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less"
Kathy Hirsh-Pasek & Roberta Michinick Golinkoff with Diane Eyer, Ph.Ds (2003)

Since I have not yet cracked the binding on this book, I will share some reviews and a few select quotes. This book is endorsed by Dr. Edward Zigler, director of Yale's Center in Child Development and Social Policy (and the "father" of Head Start). It is also a "Books for a Better Life" award winner.
"By examining the evidence that scientists have collected on intellectual and social development, you will come to understand why PLAY = LEARNING. You will see your children in a new and exciting way, with a deeper appreciation of their capabilities -- and their true needs. This is not a typical parenting book. It will not tell you when to burp the baby, when to begin toilet training, or how to discipline your preschoolers. It will offer you instead the power to create a more balanced life for you and your family."

Ellen Galinksy (President and cofound of the Families and Work Institute in New York City) comments about the book, "Although parents know that the early years are learning years, just what that means has been confusing -- until now. Einstein Never Used Flash Cads makes practical sense of the vast number of technical studies and hyperbole of advertising claims. Ti explains in clear, compelling, and scientific terms how learning really takes place. This book is a must-read for parents, grandparents, teachers, caregivers, pediatricians, and policy makers -- in other words, all those who care about and for the next generation of children."

I am looking forward to this summer when I will have time to read this book which I hope will give me more and new word and ways to talk about how important play is to children's development.
Dr. Ellaine B. Miller, PhD, is the Managing Director for the Family Child Care Partnerships program at Auburn University. www.humsci.auburn.edu/fccp


  1. I've read Einstein Never Used Flash Cards. It's been a couple of years ago so I can't remember a lot of specifics. But I do remember that I really liked the book and have recommended it to other teachers.

    I'm intrigued by your first recommendation. Maybe it needs to go on my list.

  2. Ellaine,

    I told you I was going to look forward to your post!! This is EXCELLENT!! The books you have shared are terrific!!

    Scott, I highly recommend you putting Bruce's book on your list! In the earlier days of his career he personally contributed to developing the project where I first started providing brain trainings. I still often share, The Perry Model in most presentations. I think you will enjoy the insights he shares in his honestly caring way.

    This post is another PreKandKSharing post, that I will share in numerous places!

  3. Thank you so much for this helpful list of books and your thoughts. It makes it easier to know what to read!


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