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Sep 5, 2013
08:52 AM
MK Memo

Mom Book Roundup

At a Labor Day barbecue this past weekend, a friend who tends to let motherhood get the better of her mentioned that she was up late the previous night reading. I was happy to hear that she had found time to do something for herself and I asked what book had so captured her attention, hoping she too was in the midst of A Cuckoo's Calling and wanted to talk a little J.K. Rowling. "Oh, it wasn't a fun book. It's about how to get the kids to calm down." So much for mommy me time. But the conversation made me think of the pile of parenting books sitting on my desk at work.

As you'd expect, we get a lot of parenting books sent to us at MetroKids. So inspired by my friend – and, of course, all the new books my kids will be tackling when school finally, mercifully starts for us on Monday – here's a quick peek at three of the parenting volumes I've recently received.

B+ Grades, A+ College Application by Joie Jager-Hyman has a title that pushes right up againt my tiger-mom academic instincts. (Even one B+ this year won't get my 8th-grader into the honors classes he so needs to be in come high school, and I'm worried about walking the line between challenging him to excel and pressuring him till he shuts down.) Realistically, though, not all kids are A students. Once I took a deep breath and read through, it was actually a relief to know that less-than-perfect grades can still yield a quality college acceptance, though it takes even more work and research for kids in the middle of the rankings pack. This book covers the application process soup-to-nuts, from matching academic strengths with (often lesser-known) colleges to soliciting recommendation letters and writing essays that play up a student's best traits to choosing the right extracurriculars (as we discuss in this story) to learning to interview and customizing savvy early admissions and financial aid strategies. An appendix of schools that frequently accept kids with mediocre SAT scores and mid-level class rankings is a good introduction to institutions that may not be household names but are the right fit for many young people. Author Jager-Hyman worked in the Dartmouth admissions office and knows her stuff.

Parenting Your Powerful Child: Bringing an End to the Everyday Battles is a book I'll pass along to my overwhelmed friend. Author Dr. Kevin Leman has the number of kids who constantly manipulate and wheedle into getting their way and gives parents an actionable plan to rewire the power dynamic in their home. After a bit of background on how genetics and environment create the child who sucks all the air out of the room, he urges parents to consider the kind of kid they want and lists graceful ways to turn a hun into a honey.

Finally, Reasons Mommy Drinks links mom humor with associated cocktail recipes ("to enjoy in your zero free time"): "Nursing" goes simply with a pint of Guinness, "The Nanny" with a Bloody Mary Poppins and "The Park" with the rum-based, lemon-tinged Parks and Wreck. The essays by Lyranda Martin Evans and Fiona Stevenson are short – some are no more than a paragraph – and their clever takes on board books, career stall and play groups are sure mom fodder. As for the drinking aspect, I like a cocktail as much as the next mom, and at a shower or girl's night out, this book would be a hoot. But I'm increasingly uncomfortable with the growing (and, at its core, not all that funny) perception that motherhood drives women to drink.

What do you think? And what are you reading? Let us know in the comments below.

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