Mike’s blogging today!
MaryAnne asked me if I would like a couple books targeted for dads for me to review on her site. The first book is titled Stuff Every Dad Should Know. It is a small book, only 3.8 x 6 inches and 144 pages, and seems to be optimized for someone who has a short attention span or can only read in brief spurts (like a new dad in between diaper changes). The content is broken into sections that generally occupy up to two small pages and require on the order of a minute to read. The book is organized into four parts: baby stuff, little kid stuff, big kid stuff, and teen stuff and beyond. I imagine that this book is targeted at new dads at the baby stage, and I would expect that they would find some of the topics near the end hard to imagine—like “how to handle your child’s first car accident or ticket.” I can just imagine a bleary eyed dad reading this book while burping his little infant on the couch at 3am and coming to the section on “how to meet your child’s in-laws”—and then thinking, wow… this dad thing continues for a long time… followed by, what have I gotten myself into? So, although three quarters of the book might not be immediately relevant to a new dad, it does give a nice perspective as to what to expect down the road. I enjoyed reading the book. Many of the points I already knew or learned from trial and error (or from being told by MaryAnne), but overall it was pretty entertaining. It has some good tips on topics like how to take care of fears of monsters at bedtime. It says to “turn scary monsters into friends with a good story.” The illustration shows a dad next to his daughter’s bed with a speech bubble showing two goofy looking monsters. The daughter looks reassured and the dad is giving her the thumbs up. The illustrations reminded me of the artwork provided in airplane seats to explain what to do in a disaster.
The other book I was asked to review is The Art of Roughhousing. One author has an M.D. and the other has a Ph.D. The book has an academic aspect to it, which the other book does not. For example, the first chapter provides a short history of the science of roughhousing, beginning with Harry Harlow’s work with young rhesus monkeys in the 1950s. The book doesn’t stay cerebral for too long, and it dives pretty quickly into a catalogue of roughhousing activities, such as “Ninja Warrior” which involves flipping your 0-2 year-old from your shoulders down to the ground. For each activity, the book lists the age range, difficulty, and essential skills. It also provides illustrations of the activities. The subtitle of the book is “Good Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It.” I can see how most dads will naturally flip to the sections describing the good old-fashioned horseplay (in part because there are illustrations associated with them) – but it is important to not miss out on the discussion of “why every kids need it.” It definitely changed my perspective on horseplay. I certainly enjoy horseplay with my kids, and I have fond memories of horseplay as a kid with my dad and uncles – and even my mom (except for when it resulted in my mom fracturing her toe after a ninja kick to the wall.) But the book cites research supporting the bold claim that roughhousing “makes kids smart, emotionally intelligent, lovable and likable, ethical, physically fit, and joyful.” I’m a fan.
We received copies of both books from the publisher for Mike to review. Do you have any favorite books – non-fiction or fiction – that you recommend for dads?