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Dear Marianne:

How can you tell if these holiday "hot toy" lists are credible or just advertising?

Shelley, New York, NY, Mom of Luke (4) and Max (18 months)
The best way to approach a "hot" toy list is to read it for information and not as a shopping list. Most of these lists have little or no research behind them. To determine if a list is credible or not, look for these red flags.

1. The list is based purely on opinion. Anyone can have an opinion.
There are more scientific ways to evaluate toys.

2. Kids are billed as toy experts. Children are toy consumers, not toy
experts.

3. The list contains nothing but descriptions of the toys. That's a
hint there was never really any testing or evaluation.
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Toy Tips Parenting Book Club

Our online book club works like this:

There are many different parenting styles and our readers have indicated that reviews of parenting books would be helpful. I find that everyone can always use a little direction in something. Each month, toytips.com will feature 2 parenting books that have been pre-read and suggested for the club. One will be a non-fiction parenting book covering different age groups ranging from pregnancy-adolescence. The other book will be a children's book based on character values and life lessons to read to your child. Each member has one month to read the book(s) and email their review to marianne@toytips.com by the first of the next month. The review can be as long or short as needed and ALL reviews are read to write one collective review and published on toytips.com! The books will be available at your local library or you may purchase your own. Our first month of book reading brought us 457 readers from 32 states! Thank you to all the parents, grandparents and caregivers who participated! We read The Secret Language of Children by Dr. Lawrence Shapiro and The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper.

Parenting Book:

The Secret Language of Children
by Dr. Lawrence Shapiro

Assessment: A book for any parent interested in learning about the emotional development of a child at all stages.

Review: Learning how to communicate with your child at any age is the most important parenting interaction tool you have. Understanding what an infant cry means or why your teenager is upset about a broken friendship or heartbreak is a challenge. This book provides insight and ideas to assist parents through every age.

Coping with emotions lies deep in psychological studies. Learning to become in tune with them is a way to foster and maintain better parent-child relationships at every stage of life. This book provides a general insight on some fears/ problems children may or may not communicate and provides tips and ideas through conversation, writing and art to assist a parent on how to handle them. The book also discusses how your child may understand the parent's verbal and non verbal communication and how a child may react. A variety of "Try It' techniques are interspersed through the chapters and provide an opportunity for parents to think differently and try something they may have not done before while assessing a problem with their own child.

Parent-child reading:

The Little Engine that Could
by Watty Piper

Assessment: Appropriate for children age toddler through elementary school and even for adolescents and adults when a challenge lies ahead.

Review: The classic story tells of a little train engine to try and try again. When he thinks he can no longer make it up the hill, encouragement from his friends and load motivate him to reach his potential. Fostering positive character development, the will to go on, cooperation and to succeed are all traits that should be taught in the earliest years. Some research studies suggest that exposure to morals and good character stories enhance and promote well being and shape the values and standards of behavior. NEW! (Reviews need to be emailed by December 1, 2003)

Books we are reading this month are:

The Tailor's Gift: A Holiday Tale for Everyone by David M. Stern, Dave Zaboski (Illustrator) (Hardcover)

Teach Me How to Say It Right: Helping Your Child with Articualtion Problems by Dorothy P. Dougherty

 




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