Parent Nation: Unlocking Every Child’s Potential, Fulfilling Society’s Promise

Dana Suskind, with Lydia Denworth. Dutton, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-18560-5

Suskind (Thirty Million Words), a professor of surgery and pediatrics, makes an impassioned case for family-focused policy to support brain development in young children. “We are suffering from an invisible epidemic in the form of unequal opportunities for the early brain development that all children need to achieve their innate promise,” writes Suskind, who draws on academic studies and interviews with families to explore the neuroscience of infants and toddlers and to explain how the U.S. can better support parents. According to Suskind, the ages of zero to three are when “the brain’s incredible ability to organize itself by forming new neural connections is at its peak.” As such, she argues, the U.S. should provide parents with support to capitalize on this potential in the form of paid family leave, child tax credits, and universal childcare. She highlights the stories of parents like Sabrina, who had to quit her job to care for her sick husband and young son after her employer denied her family medical leave, forcing them to move into a shelter. These wrenching stories of parents driven to the brink by a broken system make policy issues feel powerfully personal. This is an incisive and persuasive call to action. (Apr.)
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