Book shelf

February 2006

Great ideas for those holiday parties—in school and out Parties with Pizzazz: A Complete Resource for Holiday Classroom Parties, by Marci Mohan, Jeanne Palmer and Peggy Simenson, Pizzazz Publishing, 2004, $19.95.

The winter holidays are over, but that doesn’t mean the parties have to stop. Kids always love a reason to celebrate—and they want fun, different activities to keep them busy.

Are you a room parent in need of some new ideas? Then this book is just what you need. It’s got lots of great ideas for room parents planning classroom parties, youth group leaders in need of meeting ideas or parents looking for a new and different birthday party theme.

The activities in this book have been developed for Halloween, winter and Valentine’s Day parties, but many of the ideas can be altered for other occasions. Each party offers a start-to-finish idea, beginning with mixers and team builders and moving on to games, crafts and treats.

One idea for winter parties is to have the children try to unwrap something—a piece of candy or a small present—while wearing mittens. (Note: The book often suggests candy or other sugary treats, but you don’t have to reward the kids with junk food. Try giving them treats such as a new pencil or a token to redeem for small prizes later.)

For Valentine’s Day, test the kids’ ability to recognize an object when it is only in silhouette. Place an item such as a paper clip on a piece of paper then spray the paper with red paint. Hold up the silhouettes one at a time so the students can guess what object made the silhouette.

For a quieter activity, try the Keepsake Quotes page. You probably have heard your parents or grandparents say, "If at first you don’t succeed ... ," but have the children heard it? This game lets them come up with their own endings to the sayings.

I hope these few examples will help you see the possibilities for the parties you may have to plan. I would recommend that parent-teacher organizations purchase a copy of the book and donate it to the school library so it is available for party-planning time. Judy Belanger


This book offers 704 pages of great baby advice The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two, by William Sears, Martha Sears, Robert Sears and James Sears, Little Brown and Co., 2003, $21.95.

The sheer size of this 704-page book can overwhelm expectant and new parents alike. So don’t treat it like a cover-to-cover weekend read. Instead, consider it a reference book, because The Baby Book is a treasure chest of information for kids from birth to age 2. Look for a topic from the index and turn to a specific page and this book will be much easier to absorb and retain.

The famous husband-and-wife team of Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears, a nurse, have co-authored this book with their pediatrician sons, Robert and James. From the basics of infant feeding to details on how you can become your family’s nutritionist, the Sears family has it covered.

Drawing from their decades of experience as health care professionals as well as the parents of eight children, William and Martha Sears start the book by saying, "We have not only written this book, we have lived it." They write about things all parents go through, such as baby proofing your home, toilet training and bothersome toddler behavior. They also address parenting situations they haven’t lived, such as parenting an adopted baby and single parenting.

Each of the 28 chapters is divided into sections addressing sub-topics and is supported by illustrations and other supplements. Most topics have a few real-life examples illustrating different problems and approaches.

I particularly liked Part 3—Contemporary Parenting—in which the authors discuss "Babywearing" and "Night Time Parenting." The Sears are well-known advocates of attachment parenting (a philosophy that encourages parents to respond quickly to a child’s needs), but in this book they offer a variety of possible solutions to common problems without promoting just one right way.

The authors encourage parents to focus on their own intuition rather than relying heavily on expert opinions. They suggest that even if an expert opinion sounds appealing, parents need not go for an all-or-nothing approach. They could follow a part of the technique and adapt it to their child.

The Sears have provided parents with expert opinions, but hope that their book will guide each parent to become his or her own baby expert. Kiran Ansari

Win the baby sleep wars—without tears The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers: Gentle Ways to Stop Bedtime Battles and Improve Your Child’s Sleep, by Elizabeth Pantley, McGraw Hill, 2005, $15.95.

Since many "experts" advise letting children cry themselves to sleep, you may ask, "Why ‘no-cry’?" Both approaches—cry and no-cry—take weeks or even months of time. But if you could avoid the endless crying and still achieve better sleep, then why wouldn’t you?

Pantley begins with "Better Sleep Basics." She explains the physiological sleep needs of young children. She describes how to document your family’s sleep situation and figure out whether you need to change it.

She writes: "Here’s the bottom line: If your child is getting enough sleep, you are all sleeping well and the people who live in your home are happy with the way things are working out, then nothing needs to be fixed, regardless of what anyone else has to say about your family’s sleeping situation."

Part II presents "Eight Sleep Tips for Every Child," useful to all, regardless of the ages or sleep habits of your children. Who among us couldn’t benefit from advice on how to eat, exercise and relax so that we consistently slept well?

Part III, the longest of the book, is "Customized Sleep Solutions for Your Family." Pantley addresses a wide variety of issues, from bedtime battles to tooth grinding to nighttime fears to bedwetting to teething to twins. You pick which ones you need to read about.

Each section begins with a discussion of what the underlying issues might be. Pantley offers several possible solutions; all are doable, gentle and clearly explained. You use your understanding of your child, your home and your family’s dynamics to figure out which ones to try. Remember that any sleep plan must be given a fair test, but can be changed.

Pantley has written a book that is practical, comprehensive and loving. Read it, then sleep tight. Lisa M. Ginet


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