Not a psych major? Never had the chance to take a course in child development? But always wanted to and don’t have

from Florida State Archives via Flickr

the time or money right now?

Never fear! That’s what books and libraries are for! (That’s from my dad. I heard throughout my childhood that if there was something you wanted to learn, go to the library and get a book.)

I was tickled pink yesterday to have a woman ask me what she could read to understand children better. She’s been working with two year olds, is loving it, and wants to learn more.

And she’s right on target. Children are not miniature adults. They think, learn, behave, move, and in some respects even feel differently than adults. There’s nothing wrong with that though. Nothing that needs “to be fixed.” It’s the way they are made and meant to be–at whatever stage of development they are in. That’s why understanding those stages can be so incredibly helpful for anyone who interacts with kids regularly–be it parent, childcare worker, preschool teacher, or librarian. And that type of understanding is the best gift we can give children!

So what did I recommend to her? Here’s my list:

A Piaget Primer by Dorothy Singer: short, clear explanation of Piaget’s theories (still one of the best and holding up to the test of time); it’s only about 100 pages and examples are drawn from children’s stories and comics!

Miseudcation by David Elkind: ok, regular readers are going to get tired of hearing about this book but its message of the detrimental effects of pushing kids beyond their current developmental level is more timely than when it was written in the late 80’s; it also gives excellent summaries of Piaget and Erikson and of the development of early childhood education; truly a “must” read.

Your Baby and Child by Penelope Leach: the Brit guru of parenting; she covers birth through age 5 and does a marvelous job of clearly conveying the theoretical and the practical; Penelope saved my sanity when I became a first-time mama.

Einstein Never Used Flashcards by Roberta Golinkoff: enjoyable read that connects current brain research with past developmental theories–as well as describing why earlier is not better.

Your Three-Year-Old by Louise Bates Ames: another classic, this is one volume of the Gesell Institute series; there’s one volume for each age up to nine; covers all the bases, emotional, social, physical, etc.,¬† clearly and succinctly.

Of courssseee, I could go on and on. But that’s my “starter” list. What do you think needs adding?