While there’s no particular baby boom to account for it—and in fact, a 2011 study by the Pew Research Center found that the recession resulted in a downtick in births—the parenting/child care category is experiencing a growth spurt. For last year’s survey of the field, we heard from more than 20 publishers about new titles. This year, some 44 publishers submitted information.
Amid those healthy response numbers there was a clear and continuing trend: the rise of the memoir. Last year the book in everyone’s nursery was Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother; this year it’s evidently Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting (Penguin Press, Feb.), which outlines the more relaxed approach of many French parents—and which marks its fourth week on PW’s Nonfiction list.
Says St. Martin’s executive editor Kathy Huck, “With the memoir genre a constant nowadays, we’re seeing a lot of overflow into the parenting category. They tend to mix personal anecdotes while offering up advice across the ideological spectrum.”
The publisher has two new parenting memoirs coming in May (given the Mother’s Day holiday, a popular release month for mom-focused titles). The first is Double Time: How I Survived—and Mostly Thrived—the First Three Years of Mothering Twins, which author Jane Roper decided to write after coming up empty-handed looking for a memoir that mirrored her experience; and the second is Linea Johnson and Cinda Johnson’s Perfect Chaos: A Daughter’s Journey to Survive Bipolar, a Mother’s Struggle to Save Her, a mother-daughter collaboration about dealing with mental illness.
And that’s only the start of personal parenting tales on the way.
Coming Up: Autobiography
Today’s parenting books showcase every kind of parenting style, family dilemma, or special circumstance, and often from every corner (or peak) of the world. Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure (Broadway, Apr.) chronicles Patricia Ellis Herr’s “exhilarating and sometimes harrowing” quest to hike to the top of all 48 New Hampshire mountains higher than 4,000 feet—with her five-year-old daughter in tow.
Sounding a political note is longtime prominent Republican Bay Buchanan’s memoir about being a single mother, Bay and Her Boys: Unexpected Lessons I Learned as a (Single) Mom, due this month from Da Capo. “Bay’s account of raising her three sons on her own is candid and even very funny at times, but it underscores the misconceptions about single-parent families and working moms in this country,” says executive editor Katie McHugh, pointing out that nearly one in four American children are being raised by single mothers. Buchanan was Treasury secretary in the Reagan administration and is a sister to conservative pundit Patrick J. Buchanan.
From mother and son to mother and daughter: Next month Gallery will publish Dear Daughter: The Best of the Dear Leta Letters by Heather Armstrong, the bestselling author of It Sucked and Then I Cried and the wildly popular blogger behind Dooce.com. The book collects letters that Armstrong wrote to her daughter, Leta, every month for the first five years of her life, combining her trademark humor with often-poignant insights.
Numerous other new “mom perspective” titles will appeal to a variety of distinct audiences as well. Take 2007 Man Booker Prize winner Anne Enright’s Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood (Norton, Apr.), which editor Maria Guarnaschelli describes as “an example of having a baby with your conscious mind” that will be perfect for professional mothers having their first children at an older age. Meanwhile, moms curious about homeschooling may be interested in popular blogger and former child actress Quinn Cummings’s The Year of Learning Dangerously: Adventures in Homeschooling (Perigee, Aug.), which editor-in-chief Marian Lizzi says covers the experience of homeschooling Cummings’s daughter from the “good, bad, and very funny.”
Touchstone might have a potential bestseller on their hands, considering the advance interest in Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way from Mayim Bialik, in which the former teen star of Blossom (currently on The Big Bang Theory) turns her attention to what she terms attachment parenting. While Bialik does hold a doctorate in brain science, the book focuses primarily on how the theories have worked for her family. (She’s already made appearances on GMA, ABC Nightline, and Live with Kelly, with more coverage to follow.)
The slew of parents who continue to explore child-rearing techniques from other cultures will likely be drawn to Mei-Ling Hopgood’s How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: And Other Adventures in Parenting Around the World (Algonquin, Mar.). A first-time mom from suburban Michigan who now lives in Buenos Aires, journalist Hopgood traveled the globe to talk to anthropologists, educators, and child-care experts, applying what she learned to raising her young daughter. Her book, which has been or will be featured in magazines ranging from Parenting to Bust to O, is clearly a hot entry into the international parenting trend.
The season’s not all about styles from abroad, however. Those whose interest runs closer to home may want to pick up Father’s Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son by Buzz Bissinger (HMH, May), the bestselling author of Friday Night Lights. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt editorial director Eamon Dolan says readers will find something a bit different in Bissinger’s story of a cross-country journey on which he connects with his now-grown son Zach, who was born as a savant—challenged by intellectual deficits, but also possessing rare talents. This is the first book under Dolan’s eponymous imprint.
“The spotlight now seems to be on other cultures’ approaches to child-rearing—Asian, French, even Eskimo—and there’s real utility in comparing our take on parenting with theirs,” says Dolan. “But I think Bissinger’s book puts the focus back where it belongs—on the children we’re all raising.”
Certainly, as American families continue to change in make-up and deal with new issues, a demand is created for books that take on those realities. Small publisher Bilingual Readers, for example, offers Bilingual Is Better: Two Latina Moms on How the Bilingual Parenting Revolution Is Changing the Face of America (Aug.) by Roxana A. Soto and Ana L. Flores, making a case for encouraging fluency in English and Spanish that will no doubt resonate with many families.
Brenda Knight, associate publisher of Cleis Press/Viva Editions, says the publisher chooses carefully what to tackle when deciding to do a parenting title. Its latest such book, Transitions of the Heart: Stories of Love, Struggle and Acceptance by Mothers of Transgender and Gender Variant Children (May), is edited by Rachel Pepper, the former coordinator of lesbian and gay studies at Yale. Says Knight, “In 2012 a key concern that has emerged for parents is children on the gender spectrum. Cleis does only one big parenting title a decade, but when we do, it’s a game-changer.” She notes that Books, Inc., in Alameda, Calif. has already approached the publisher to schedule an appearance for Pepper.
An anthology from North Atlantic also provides a window onto the importance of a growing issue—and population—involved in both parenting and child care: grandparents. According to Grandparents.com, some 72% of grandparents in the U.S. care for their grandkids on a regular basis. With advance praise from the bestselling author of Bad Mother, Ayelet Waldman, comes Wondrous Child: The Joys and Challenges of Grandparenting (Mar.), edited by North Atlantic co-founder and author/poet Lindy Hough, which collects 28 personal essays from grandparents and grandchildren across a variety of backgrounds.components/article_pagination.html not found (No such file or directory)