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Good Idea: Parenting Books Cliff Notes Swap

The books pictured above have been taking up residence on my nightstand for as long as I can remember, and I haven’t gotten past the first chapter on any of them.  I have a 3 year old and a 19 month old, I just don’t have time in my life to crack open a book (and the 7th grade bookworm version of me just died a little with that sentence).  So there they sit, mocking me each night before I turn off the light.  I’m confident they’re filled with the secrets to totally nailing this parenting thing, if I only I could squeeze in a few hours to read them.


I really thought there was no solution to this problem until I opened up my email one morning and an answer was unceremoniously offered up to me.  A friend of a friend had the clever idea to start a parenting book club – on steroids.  Instead of meeting up regularly to talk about a single book (which none of us had time for), we’d all pick a book, read it and take notes, and then share those notes with the others via email. Cliff notes parenting – why didn’t I think of that?


As with the use of actual Cliff notes, you’re obviously going to miss some of the nuances digesting parenting info. in this way.  But it’s a hell of a lot better than not reading the stuff at all.  So what did I do with this email seemingly sent form the heavens to answer my prayers?  I closed it, forgot about it, and completely missed the boat for the book club.  What can I say?  Sometimes, despite my best intentions, I just can’t get it together no matter how easy someone makes it.


But if I ever get a second opportunity, you can bet I’m joining in.  Which is why I thought I’d write a little post about it today.  Do you know a few parents who’d be willing to undertake something like this?  Why not send out an email and see if you can set the wheels in motion?  (If you do, I wouldn’t be at all upset if your forwarded your notes on to me when you’re done.)  Below are five reads at the top of my book report wish-list.


  1. 15 minutes Outside – It seems every spring since having kids I make a vow to spend more time outdoors with them.  From what I’ve heard, this book is full of ideas for getting families outside and I like the attainable goal of starting with just 15 minutes a day.
  2. Siblings Without Rivalry – I first checked this out from the library on my pediatrician’s advice when I was pregnant with S.  Then I had S and promptly forgot about it until it was mentioned again by a teacher at her toddler group.  Considering that the longest relationship my children will have will be with each other, perusing a book or two on how not to ruin it as their parent seems worthwhile.
  3. Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child – If you’re a regular reader here than you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I’m a big proponent of emotional coaching.  Despite learning about it from early childhood educators and attending presentations on the topic, I’ve still yet to read the book on it.
  4. The Five Love Languages of Children – I think the premise of this one is fascinating, that kids have specific love languages they’re most receptive to and that you can actually figure out which one works best for yours.
  5. Raising Confident Boys – Honestly I don’t know anything about this one but I keep seeing it on the shelf of our toddler group library (which is generally a good endorsement) and I find it so intriguing.  There’s a lot being said these days about self-esteem and self-worth for girls but I rarely hear mention of the topic specifically related to boys.
That’s my five, anyone want to volunteer to read them and send over the highlights?  Or, better yet, anyone read one and want to summarize the high points in the comments below?  Also, I’m curious, if you were to start your own parenting cliff notes swap, what books would be on the top of your list?


P.S. My friend Amanda is currently hosting a read-along of the book Mind in the Making over on her blog.  It’s not quite a cheat sheet for the book but it’s close and, as always, she has lots of insightful info. to share.  She only hit chapter two yesterday so you still have lots of time to catch up and join in.


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