cover image GROWING UP: A Classic American Childhood

GROWING UP: A Classic American Childhood

Marilyn vos Savant, Marilyn V. Savant, . . Norton, $21.95 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-393-05125-4

Parade magazine advice columnist vos Savant (Ask Marilyn) has penned a sort of "Life's Little Instruction Book" for the younger set. The book is a checklist for parents and kids of the things children need to know by the time they reach adulthood. Everyday skills ("be able to brew really good coffee and tea") as well as experiences ("have made hand puppets from old socks and staged an impromptu show with a friend") are included in the 32 chapters, all in bullet list format, which cover subjects like "Telephones & Talking," "Being a Good Citizen," "Science All Around Us" and "Dating and Dining." The nostalgic collection, accompanied by vintage photos and period quotes, can seem a little musty ("be able to dance just one current step well enough to have fun at parties and not just watch"), but vos Savant adds a contemporary edge by suggesting kids learn to use e-mail and "be able to tell your family if you're gay." Vos Savant also reveals just how many activities there are that don't cost a lot of money, such as catching fireflies in a back yard, fishing with a bamboo pole or searching for arrowheads and fossils. Her sweet and useful guide to living a good life is bound to start plenty of conversations between parents and their children. (Aug.)