Book Shelf


Blepharitis, Ichthyophthirius and you

Sleeping through the night without tears: It can happen THE NO-CRY SLEEP SOLUTION: GENTLE WAYS TO HELP YOUR BABY SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT, by Elizabeth Pantley, Contemporary Books, $14.95.

Can this really be true? Can my baby sleep through the night without those gut-wrenching, tortuous nights of screaming?

Elizabeth Pantley, a parent educator and mother of four, has written a sleep book with very specific solutions to help parents gently get their babies and toddlers to sleep. Pantley's understanding style conveys to the reader that she has "been there." She weaves her personal experiences into her explanations and suggestions, and she has sprinkled helpful and reassuring anecdotes from others (labeled "Mother Speak") throughout the book.

Pantley questions advocates of "cry it out." Research she reviews shows very few parents succeed at that and use the method because they believe it is the only thing that will work. The uniqueness of each parent-child relationship is important, and you need to understand your child's rhythm before you can figure out what might work.

Before we get all the hands-on suggestions, Pantley talks about safety and sleep patterns. We liked the detailed safety precautions. She begins by addressing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the primary safety concern for sleeping babies. Pantley gives a general safety checklist and specific precautions for cradles, cribs, and co-sleeping environments.

Next, Pantley discusses sleep facts, giving ranges and guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules. She explains how babies sleep, how much they should sleep, and how they have a different circadian rhythm or biological clock. A newborn is not programmed to sleep 12 hours. It's not gonna happen. Their survival depends on frequent wakings.

Now comes the hard part. Once you have a good idea of how your baby sleeps, consider changes. The book is full of really effective techniques--we've tried some--and just good advice on how to live with the situation. You need to know your baby and read her or his cues, then get ready to be calm and consistent. Pantley recommends parents create a sleep plan and try it out. If something is not working, and everybody is stressed, take a break and start fresh after a week or two.

Pantley's style is easy to understand and you will enjoy this book. However, it will not solve all of your sleep problems tonight. With your commitment to think and experiment, the practical, loving, and time-tested strategies in The No-Cry Sleep Solution will help you and your child get the sleep you need to enjoy the world and each other.

Jean Detmer and Lisa Ginet

Parents must advocate for higher quality schools ACHIEVEMENT MATTERS: GETTING YOUR CHILD THE BEST EDUCATION POSSIBLE By Hugh Price, Kensington Publishing, 2002, $27

As a former teacher, teacher educator and parent volunteer, I have spent an incredible amount of time in public schools around the Chicago area. I have seen outstanding educators succeeding with academically challenged students; and lousy educators, unable to communicate to even the brightest learners. Lately, I have noticed a disturbing complacency among teachers and parents that has resulted in an academically soft curriculum and a sense that good enough is, well, good enough.

In his book, Hugh Price, president of the National Urban League, attacks the myth that mediocrity is enough. He writes for the parent who sees inadequacies but feels powerless to do anything. He also writes for the parents who have never before considered taking a proactive stance regarding their children's education. His book is both a political statement about schools and a practical guide to being a productively involved parent.

As an African-American, the author is familiar with the special challenges faced by minority children. For example, he discusses how too many are in special education classes or drop out of school. He provides a wake-up call for parents in substandard schools, urging them to demand a better education for their children. And, he points out, parents have the ultimate responsibility with their children to teach the belief that doing your best is the only option.

This is a forceful book and, while slanted toward minority communities, the message is vital for all parents.

Price delivers a wealth of practical advice on how to begin children's learning at home and how to navigate the school system to avoid common pitfalls. For example, he suggest that parents judge the effectiveness of their schools by asking questions about the amount of time spent on reading and math, or how quickly officials intervene when a student falters.

Price provides sections on computer literacy and after-school learning opportunities. He also includes developmental information from the National Urban League Campaign for African American Achievement and a comprehensive list of parent resources.

While some readers may be put off by his generally negative take on public schools, his message is important. Sometimes it takes a real challenge to the status quo to bring about meaningful change, and this book could be a catalyst for that change in our educational system.

Barbara Abromitis

Embracing the mayhem: the trials of fatherhood THE FATHER'S GUIDE TO BIRTH, BABIES AND LOUD CHILDREN, By Jim Hoehn, Parent's Guide Press, $12.95.

The book's title alone makes clear this is no finely theorized dissertation touting some profound path toward raising happy and healthy children. However, it may be just that.

Shrewdly tweaking the tired how-to formula, author Jim Hoehn has put together a how-to-get-through-it handbook for dads and dads-to-be that reads like a script for a network sitcom. Actually, it doesn't read so much as it spills and splatters passages of his delightfully harried life as a "father of three and husband of one."

A shell-shocked eyewitness on the parental front lines, Hoehn wraps morsels of enlightenment inside his entertaining tales of, whoa, what do I do now?

"Raising children is not a learning curve," Hoehn writes in the introduction. "It is a roller coaster of the gut-busting, scream-inducing variety with dizzying highs, terrifying lows and stomach-churning drops and climbs interspersed at every opportunity with head-snapping turns. Sometimes the best you can do is hang on and enjoy the ride."

Hoehn's wild ride includes everything from ultrasound readings to diaper changes, at-home haircuts to sibling rivalries. He even attempts to rationalize his purchase of not one, but two family minivans.

Rather than tried and true lessons of fatherhood, Hoehn lets his experiences convey his cause. This is a guy's guide, so the reoccurring theme is pretty much a general warning that dads should be prepared to be unprepared.

The comic metaphors and caravan of one-liners are a bit overwrought if taken in one sitting, but Hoehn well knows parenthood allows little time for sitting, and even less time for reading. With chapters conveniently broken down into manageable sections like, "The Nearest Restroom, Quick," "Surfing the Hormonal Waves" and "Dog Day Afternoon," this broadside of a book is meant to be read between interruptions and eruptions. Because it begins in the delivery room and sails right into the toddler years, it is also the type to be referred to again and again as children morph into new and more intriguing life forms.

While Hoehn's self-deprecating edge keeps him from coming off as some New Age parental hero, the Milwaukee-based sportswriter and humor columnist has committed himself to being vigorously active, and amusing, in the lives of his children. He embraces the mayhem and lets his kids be kids.

Perhaps that's the most important message that can come out of any parenting book. Be there for your children. And, be sure to have fun with them.

Dave Whitaker


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