Thursday, December 09, 2010

Gift Guide: Great Books for Highly Gifted Children and Their Parents

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I'm dusting off my bookshelf to offer these recommendations for highly and profoundly gifted young children and their parents. Each of the picture books below helps normalize the quirks and sensitivities experienced by many gifted children and their parents. You are not alone! It can be helpful for the entire family to see their stories play out in such a harmless, and often entertaining, format.

Odd Boy Out : Young Albert Einstein

As told by Don Brown, Albert Einstein was a fat baby with a swollen head who didn’t talk until he was three, was cruel to his sister and scared off more than one tutor. Einstein’s odd ways continued though his childhood. He didn’t play sports like the other boys, he was teased for being Jewish, and his teachers wondered if perhaps he was a bit dim-witted.

But then dear Albert falls in love…with a geometry book, and well, you probably know how the story ends. This book is like “The Ugly Duckling” for quirky smart kids of all ages who’ve not yet found their way.

Goodness only knows what would have become of Albert if he’d been born in the new millennium. I guess he would have been in early intervention services, followed by an IEP and his parents would be struggling to find the money to pay for his therapists and medications, instead of his tutors. Ya think?

Baby Brains

This fun picture book tells the bittersweet story of Baby Brains, the smartest baby in the whole world. Mama and Papa Brains do all the right things when she’s pregnant to help make a smart baby. But everyone is surprised by just how precocious her little one is. Within days of his birth he’s already in school…and he’s teaching the teacher new things. Interestingly, she thanks him for correcting her. A certain boy's first grade teacher was not nearly as appreciative when he tried to explain to her and the class that infinity is a concept and not a number. It was a losing battle.

Baby Brains is so smart that he’s invited to participate in a space mission when he’s only weeks old. But while floating around in space he realizes something: he misses his mama!

Looking beyond the silliness of the tale, one can find a good lesson about asynchronous development. Precocious children exhibit abilities beyond their years, but they are not mini-adults, they are still children. As the parent of a time-traveling child* I know these children bring unexpected delights and just as many challenges.

Sometimes I'm Bombaloo

Follow along as little Katie Honors transitions from a good little girl who plays with her blocks, to one who goes bombaloo after her baby brother destroys her fine work.

Katie becomes an unstoppable destructive force. Her out-of-control tantrum continues after being sent to her room, but she eventually calms down. Hugs her mama and cleans up “the mess that bombaloo made.”

Based on the little experiment I call raising my boys, I can say that not all children go bombaloo. In fact, I conclude that perhaps 50% do. If you have a young child who doesn’t merely get upset, but goes completely outside of himself with anger, this book can help normalize those scary, angry feelings. A good therapist might help, too. But start with this book; it’s cheaper and much more convenient.

The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth

A farm boy with a lifelong passion for gadgets and a knack for fixing worn mechanical objects as well as inventing new ones, gets an idea for how to use cutting edge technology, electricity, to send pictures to a viewer, something we now know as television.

Every child in America spends hours a day in effect praying at Farnsworth's altar, but how many even know his name? Regardless of whether you now praise Farnsworth or damn him under your breath, this is an inspirational story. There's also a cautionary element that reminds parents that their little inventors need business smarts in addition to technical ones.

Do you have any favorites to add to this?

Disclosure: We bought the Bombaloo book back around 2002; the other books were all library finds.

*Did you click? Yes, I used to write for the BabyCenter's insanely popular Momformation Blog.

1 comment:

Joanna said...

Wow, Odd Boy Out really sounds like a great read. One of my favorite posters that my dad had hung in my room as a child was one of Einstein. Sadly, he loves it too and I was never allowed to keep it. I did manage to obscond with the Manchu Dragon poster, though. :-)

Great gift ideas, I will definitely be looking up these books! Thanks for sharing!