Book Review: Some Of My Best Friends Are Books

Some Of My Best Friends Are Books:  Guiding Gifted Readers From Preschool To High School:  A Guide For Parents, Teachers, Librarians, And Counselors, by Judith Wynn Halsted

Admittedly, I am not a parent, teacher, librarian, or counselor, except that I have my own library of some considerable size [1].  On the other hand, I was clearly a gifted child and an avid reader from my youth, and in many ways this book gives me mixed emotions.  For example, on the one hand this book reminds me of my own youth, in commenting on the sensitivity of gifted children, on their asynchronous maturity in intellectual, emotional, and physical spheres, in the fact that such people are often far more intense than their peers and are sensitive to the rejection that their quirkiness often brings, and on the way that such people may not be easily understood by peers, teachers, or family members.  On the other hand, the book is itself an encouragement to do what I can to provide encouragement to the gifted children around me so that they may learn young what I accidentally discovered over the course of life.  Over and over again this book points out both the emotional and intellectual needs of gifted children and the way that the issues and solutions found in childhood often continue long into adulthood, as indeed they have for me and no doubt for many others.  This is the sort of book that could have been influential in my own life had I or an adult close to me came across it during the course of my own turbulent childhood.  Alas, that was not the case.  Even so, there is a lot of value to be found here.

The contents of this book, like my feelings about them, are somewhat mixed.  The first seven chapters of this book take up a bit more than 250 pages, and the eighth chapter takes up about 230 pages, followed by various supplementary material in indices, bibliographies, and the like.  The book, as a whole, seeks to balance a concern with the emotional and intellectual development of gifted young people.  The first chapter, for example, examines the heart of the gifted child and how books can help with emotional matters.  The second chapter looks at the mind of the gifted child, commenting on the importance of parents and the obstacles to intellectual development.  These two chapters, combined, make up the first part of the book, which focuses on the children.  The second part of the book, focused on the process of development through books, contains three chapters.  The third chapter of the book gives reading guidance, including the special characteristics of gifted children and a discussion of avid and resistant readers.  In the fourth chapter of the book the author looks at emotional development through books and discusses in great detail the use of bibliotherapy to help with developmental and therapeutic problems that gifted children often face as a result of adversity and high degrees of native sensitivity.  The fifth chapter of the book looks at intellectual development through books, giving a primer for parents, a an examination of how books are to be discussed at school and in books, and how children can be encouraged in using the library.  The third part of the book, containing the last three chapters of the book, focuses on the books.  The sixth chapter of the book discusses the need of gifted children to find books that challenge them, which can be a difficult task for some readers young and old.  The seventh chapter examines different genres of children’s literature and gives special encouragement for parents and other adults to give gifted children familiarity with myths, poetry, and plays, which are often not included by schools but which can be profitable for young readers to read.  Chapter eight consists of the author’s admittedly biased recommendations for about 300 or so books that should be read by gifted children ranging from Pre-K to senior high school.  Some of these books are ones I read and enjoyed while young, and some are books that are far more morally problematic and worthy of criticism and skepticism.

Indeed, when I finished the seventh chapter of this book I thought that this was one of the finest books among many that I have read encouraging parents or other adults about the reading of bright young children [2].  And then the eighth chapter demonstrated some unpleasant ulterior motives and biases on the part of the author that cast her efforts to guide the reading of gifted children in a decidedly immoral light.  On the one hand, the author recommends readings on perfectionism as well as a focus on smart girls and guiding gifted children that are also published by the same publisher, showing a certain corporate agenda.  On the other hand, the author focuses on books that encourage multiculturalism, show a disdain for Christians as well as godly morality, and that show a fairly typical leftist social agenda with regards to environmentalism.  These biased book recommendations demonstrate that the guidance the author wishes to give to readers is in large part a malign one, and this considerably dims the enthusiasm many readers will have for this book.  Even so, if one takes out the last chapter, there is a lot to enjoy, and so this book remains worthy of a partial and cautious recommendation largely for its insight into the development and struggles of gifted children.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/10/11/book-review-unpacking-my-library/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2014/04/09/you-can-learn-a-lot-about-someone-by-looking-at-their-library/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/03/22/a-personal-library/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2014/01/09/the-accidental-traveling-librarian-or-the-material-culture-of-nomads/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/11/27/book-review-the-reading-strategies-book/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2014/06/21/book-review-how-to-teach-your-children-shakespeare/

 

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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5 Responses to Book Review: Some Of My Best Friends Are Books

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