The reviews posted on this page are the thoughts and opinions of Keith Zafren, founder of The Great Dads Project. They are posted for your assistance in determining which books might be of value to you. You can agree with, disagree with, or not even care about my opinions. They’re only opinions. I do not make any money by marketing these books. These are merely reviews for your benefit, amusement, and evaluation. Some of the author bios are from Amazon.com, the author’s website, from the book itself, or from another source noted.
You will see an image of the book cover, the name of the book and it’s author(s), the year of publication, and a short description of the book on this page. If you see a book that interests you, click on it and you will be taken to my review of the book in a new window.
Check back often for more book reviews added regularly.
GENERAL PARENTING BOOKS:
The Apprenticeship of Being Human: Why Early Childhood Parenting Matters to Everyone
Graham Scharf (2012)
Graham Scharf’s insight into early childhood parenting is deeply personal and multidimensional. Scharf argues, with mounds of medical evidence to support him, that it is in these early stages of child development that the brain of a child is most malleable and developing at rate unmatched in later years. In the early, highly formative years, parents have profound influence to shape their child’s brain, literally, for good or for waste. This is when a child learns what it means to be a human being—by observing his or her parents in real life, particularly by experiencing their interactions together.
1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12
Thomas W. Phelan PhD (updated edition 2010)
Thomas Phelan provides a straight-forward, simple, and easy-to-implement plan for helping parents calmly respond to their children’s bad behaviors, tantrums, and disobedience without engaging emotionally in anger or frustration (at least that’s the noble goal). At the onset of a problem, the parent holds up one finger and calmly says, “One.” If the child persists, the parent says, hold up two fingers and says, “Two.” If the child still does not cease and desist, the parent holds up three fingers, says, “Three,” and scoops up the child (if he or she is still young and small enough) and sets the child in a timeout, preferably in his or her room. If the child comes out, the parent calmly but firmly places the child back in timeout, shutting the door if need be.
Parent Effectiveness Training
Dr. Thomas Gordon (2000)
Dr. Thomas Gordon’s, Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) class is the pioneering program that has helped millions of parents around the world. Classes are offered by certified P.E.T. Instructors throughout the country and in many different countries. Whether you’re the parent of a toddler or a teenager, you know that parenting can be challenging–even overwhelming at times. Unfortunately, children don’t come with an instruction manual. And, being a parent doesn’t always mean that you automatically or instinctively know what to do. Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) offers proven communication skills that really work. When parents use these skills, they are amazed with the dramatic improvement both in their families and in all their relationships.
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish (longtime bestseller updated in 2012)
Although the chosen demographic is parents and how they listen to and speak to their children, the communication skills taught in this book are universal. They can (and should be) applied in all relationships, even in business. One Amazon review said it succinctly while summarizing some of the key points the book teaches: “treat people with respect, do not deny their emotions, state the facts (only) and shut up and listen. This book also talks about giving praise and recognition, which makes it another reason to use it in real life, inside the family AND outside in the ‘real’ world.” The logical, reflective, respectful communication skills taught in this book really work.
Teaching Kids to Be Good People: Progressive Parenting for the 21st Century
By Annie Fox, M.Ed. (2012)
Author Annie Fox has compiled a delightful, practical, and useful anthology of advice to parents of teens. The book is essentially a compilation of blog posts on various topics every parent of a teenager will face or deal with at one time or another.
BOOKS ESPECIALLY FOR DADS:
Larry’s engaging book provides a series of short, to-the-point chapters that explain, illustrate, and provide practical tips in nine different areas of life for dads who want to become the best version of themselves as dads, husbands, and men. The book is definitely about good fathering, but it’s more than that. Larry encourages men to be better husbands to their wives by listening to them, seeing them, and prioritizing communicating with them. He challenges us men to take time for ourselves so that we fill our own buckets and therefore have more patience in our relationships and workplace. He tells us we need to eat well and exercise more to become better dads. And he describes the power each one of us has to choose the positive perspective in every situation that will make us happy and better serve those around us. It’s certainly a book about being a good dad—there are plenty of great, simple, and very practical suggestions on how to relate to our kids and to engage them—but it’s more than that as well.
A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketball
Dwyane Wade (2013)
I recently completed reading Wade’s fantastic and compelling book. I hope you choose to get the book and read it from cover to cover as I did. You will not be disappointed. Read below and decide for yourself. This book tells three distinct and moving stories woven together to reveal the life, character, and passion of one remarkable man—Dwyane Wade—childhood survivor, basketball superstar, and devoted father.
Finding Our Fathers:
How a Man’s Life is Shaped by His Relationship with His Father
Samuel Osherson, Ph.D. (1986, 2001)
Osherson himself explains his book in his preface: “Self-understanding is an essential first step for men today. If a man is to be a good father to his son, or a good husband to his wife, he needs to know what he got, or wanted and didn’t get, from his own father; how he was both strengthened and wounded by that relationship; how it has influenced his own fathering style and his own identity as a man.” This book is a classic in this genre and one I recommend. Take a look at my review and decide for yourself.
Star Wars: Darth Vader and Son
Jeffrey Brown (2012)
The book is a simple and humorous look at the often unexpected joys, spontaneous moments of laughter, teaching moments, and some of the frustrations of being a dad to a young son, all played out between Darth Vader and his son Luke Skywalker. In this short, hardcover collection of original cartoons and captions, Vader is a present, day-to-day father raising Luke while doing what we dads do: training Luke to hit a baseball (with a light saber), telling him not to make bubbles when he sips through a straw (at the intergalactic bar), or pouring his son a bowl of cereal for breakfast (using the force to do so). You get the idea.
Championship Fathering – How to Win at Being a Dad
Carey Casey (2009)
This book is a clear, practical, and inspiring guide for men, particularly Christian men, to become championship fathers. Carey advocates what he describes as the three fundamental elements of championship fathering: loving, coaching, and modeling. The entire book is built upon explaining, demonstrating, inspiring, and urging these three critical and effective modes of fathering.
BOOKS ABOUT DIVORCE AND FOR DIVORCED DADS:
Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis, and Sandra Blakeslee. (2000)
This book is a long, powerful, and insightful study and report of findings mostly told masterfully through stories of children from divorced families. The results of the longitudinal study are mind-boggling as to the complexities and difficulties with which so many men, women, and children live.
By Robert Emery, PhD (2004)
This useful book is based on 25 years of groundbreaking psychological research. Dr. Emery presents a lucid, practical, and compelling case for all parents going through divorce to put their children’s needs first so that children can be resilient, heal, and eventually thrive themselves.
PERSONAL GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT FOR DADS:
By Dr. Martin Seligman (1990, 1998, 2006)
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was both intellectually stimulating and personally inspiring. Seligman’s research, stories, personal writing style, and hopeful conclusions intrigued me and spurred me to consider deeply whether my way of explaining what happens in my life is a half-empty (pessimistic) or half-full (optimistic) perspective. The studies he cites and explains made this a very important matter to discern.
Scientific research proves that people who intentionally think about what they have to be grateful for on a regular basis and who maintain a positive, optimistic perspective about life in general strengthen their immune systems, decrease illness, earn more money, have longer lasting and more meaningful relationships, and are all around happier and more satisfied with their lives. This includes parenting and enjoying relationships with our children of all ages.
BOOKS TO READ WITH CHILDREN:
What the Series is About:
Wikipedia.org describes these books perfectly: “The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven fantasy novels for children and is considered a classic of children’s literature. Written between 1949 and 1954 and illustrated by Pauline Baynes, the series is Lewis’s most popular work, having sold over 100 million copies in 41 languages. It has been adapted several times, complete or in part, for radio, television, stage and cinema.“