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.
Although personal stories are definitely enjoying a rise in popularity, there’s still a clear need for the more traditional parenting book. This kind of title frequently takes on a specific issue, such as fostering good sleep—The Dream Sleeper by Conner Herman and Kira Ryan (Jossey-Bass, Mar.)—or teaching kids economic principles—Mary Hunt’s Raising Financially Confident Kids (Revell, July). Hunt’s Debt-Proof Living has 35,000 print subscribers and an average of 800,000 Web site hits per month.
Some books simply focus on providing a guide for a specific group, such as dads, the less-published-for parent. Dr. David Hill, a pediatrician and single father, has written Dad to Dad: Parenting Like a Pro for the American Academy of Pediatrics (June). “We see the need for childcare books for caregivers other than moms, specifically dads, which is why the AAP feels it has the perfect combination in this title,” says marketing manager Mary Jo Reynolds.
Other titles aimed at dad include But Dad! A Survival Guide for Single Fathers of Tween and Teen Daughters by Gretchen Gross and Patricia Livingston (Rowman & Littlefield, Feb.), Stuff Every Dad Should Know by Brett Cohen (Quirk, May), and How to Be a Good Divorced Dad by Jeffery Leving (Jossey-Bass, Apr.).
Books focusing on specific, yet evergreen behavioral issues also seem to be on the rise. For parents concerned about toilet training, John Rosemond offers Toilet Training Without Tantrums (Andrews McMeel, June), in which the nationally known expert and author of 14 other parenting titles attempts to simplify and de-stress the process. Parents with more complicated needs in this area may want to consult It’s No Accident: Breakthrough Solutions to Your Children’s Wetting, Constipation, UTIs, and Other Potty Problems by Dr. Steve Hodges with Suzanne Schlosberg (Lyons Press, Feb.), which acquisitions editor at Lyons’s parent publisher Globe Pequot Lara Asher notes is by a pediatric urologist and “covers an area of parenting that’s rarely talked about.”
Ballantine executive editor Marnie Cochran sees these kind of targeted books as a more practical sweet spot in the category. “Whether about Chinese tigers or French mamans (which seems to be the trend du jour), overseas ‘momoirs’ are like armchair travel,” she says. “Parents aren’t reading them for advice about what to do, but rather are enjoying the sights and strange customs of other cultures.” She adds that the publisher has seen growth in “shorter, issue-specific books that cater to the need you have as a parent right now—sleep training to a learning disability, from how to start your child on solids to how to talk to your tween about sex.”
Two examples coming from Ballantine, out this month, are The Autism Revolution: Whole-Body Strategies for Making Life All It Can Be by Dr. Martha Herbert, with science journalist Karen Weintraub, the first Harvard Health Publications–backed book on autism; and Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow (May) by the bestselling author of Raising Cain Michael Thompson, a boon to parents nervous about sending children to camp or even letting them go to sleepovers.
The plethora of other specific resource books on the way include Calm the Crying by Priscilla Dunstan (Avery, Sept.); Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kid’s “Go To” Person About Sex by Deborah Roffman (Da Capo, July); What’s Wrong with My Kid? When Drugs or Alcohol Might Be a Problem and What to Do About It by George E. Leary Jr. (Hazelden, May); The Sex-Wise Parent: The Parent’s Guide to Protecting Your Child, Strengthening Your Family, and Talking to Kids About Sex, Abuse and Bullying by Janet Rosenzweig (Skyhorse, Apr.); and An Early Start for Your Child with Autism by Sally J. Rogers, Geraldine Dawson, and Laurie A. Vismara (Guilford, June). Clearly, publishers are targeting every parent’s problem of the moment.
Yet another burgeoning area of this category overlaps with nutrition and cookbooks. With titles ranging from Grand Central’s The Wholesome Baby Food Guide: Over 150 Easy, Delicious, and Healthy Recipes from Purees to Solids by Maggie Meade (Feb.) to Morrow’s Parents Need to Eat Too by Debbie Koenig (Feb.) and French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters by Karen Le Billon (Apr.), those interested in food for the family, from babies to adults, are covered.
Workman’s The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in Her Back Pocket is due this month from former associate publisher Katie Workman, now the founding editor-in-chief of Cookstr.com. Workman’s current editor-in-chief, Susan Bolotin, says that these days “parents care less about what category a book falls into and more about finding books that will help them help their kids. The Mom 100 Cookbook—it’s a cookbook, sure, but it’s also a parenting book.”
And, finally, there are also more global titles that seek to provide a larger strategy or philosophy for parenting—be it hands off or hands on. Examples abound, from Dr. Harley Rotbart’s No Regrets Parenting: Turning Long Days and Short Years into Cherished Moments with Your Kids (Andrews McMeel, Feb.) to Susan Stiffelman’s Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Calm, Cool and Connected (Atria, Mar.), and from Donna B. Pincus’s Growing Up Brave: Expert Strategies for Helping Your Child Overcome Fear, Stress, and Anxiety (Little, Brown, Aug.) to Heather Shumaker’s It’s Okay Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids (Tarcher, Aug.).
Tarcher executive editor Sara Carder sums up the category’s increasing diversity: “I think one thing the tiger mom sensation really brought home is how incredibly passionate parents today are about the style in which they’re choosing to raise their children.”
Sometimes what parents need most in today’s stressed-out times may be simple: a good laugh. Several publishers have books on deck that blend humor with the practical to provide precisely that.
Coming from Abrams in September is Sh*tty Mom: The Guide for Good-Enough Moms by Laurie Kilmartin, Karen Moline, Alicia Ybarbo, and Mary Ann Zoellner. This gaggle of high-powered professional women includes a mix of married, single, and adoptive moms that promises to offer a hilarious point-of-view on motherhood. Abrams editorial director Jennifer Levesque notes that “irreverent humor is in right now” for parenting books, but also cites the title’s universality. “Every mom—whether you’re working, not working, have one kid or eight kids—feels like a sh*tty mom at some point,” she says.
Jill Smokler’s Confessions of a Scary Mommy: An Honest and Irreverent Look at Motherhood (Gallery, Apr.) is based on the author’s ScaryMommy.com, which receives more than 700,000 page views per month. According to the publisher, the book speaks to “a new generation of women who recognize that it’s okay not to be perfect.”
Another humorous personal take—this time on fatherhood—is due from Dan Bucatinsky, actor, writer, and executive producer of NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? Bucatinsky’s Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight? Confessions of a Gay Dad (Touchstone) recounts in side-splitting style his and partner Don Roos’s experience adopting a daughter. The June release has garnered advance praise from such luminaries as Jane Lynch, Ayelet Waldman, and Dan Savage.
In Kay Wills Wyma’s Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement (Waterbrook, May), the offspring of the former White House employee and mother of five learn how to do everything from cooking dinner to hosting parties, with humor and aplomb along the way. Author Suzanne Weber asks To What Miserable Wretches Have I Been Born? Revenge Poetry for Babies and Toddlers (Atria, Apr.), which imagines the unexpected things babies might say if they could talk.
Meanwhile, Pasadena’s Prospect Park Media has received good press from Teen Vogue and Admission Now for its just-published tongue-in-cheek take on college prep, The Neurotic Parent’s Guide to College Admissions by J.D. Rothman. According to publisher Colleen Dunn Bates, “The early response has already been tremendous—clearly parents are burned out from worry and need to laugh about how ridiculous the pressure, competition, and expense are,”
Last but not least, from the team that touched off the irreverent humor trend, Go the F**k to Sleep, author Adam Mansbach and illustrator Ricardo Cortés, comes a new kid-friendly version of their instant comic classic. Seriously, Just Go to Sleep (Akashic, Mar.) brings children in on the joke, helping them understand their own tactics and why their parents just want them to go… to sleep.
Bringing up Baby
Each year brings a blend of updated classics and new titles aimed at helping pregnant women make the successful transition to motherhood—this season’s no different.
The so-called “pregnancy bible,” Workman’s perennially popular What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel, is now in its fourth edition with 15 million copies in print—and still going strong. Another perennial bestseller is Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care, 9th Edition, updated by Dr. Robert Needlman, which was made available as an e-book for the first time ever last month by Skyhorse Publishing. Says associate publisher Bill Wolfsthal, “This is a book that’s been used to raise generations of Americans.”
Other guides to pregnancy and the baby beyond include Ann Douglas’s The Mother of All Pregnancy Books, 2nd Edition (Wiley, June), Annette Rubin and Melissa Schweiger’s Belli Beautiful: The Essential Guide to Safe and Healthy Personal Care Products for Pregnancy, Motherhood, and Baby (Da Capo, Apr.), and Susan Magee and Dr. Kara Nakisbendi’s The Pregnancy Countdown Book: 9 Months of Practical Tips, Useful Advice and Uncensored Truths (Quirk, Apr.). Says Quirk publisher David Borgenicht, “Now that readers can get so much free advice and info online from doctors and mommy bloggers, parenting books have to offer something different—a POV or approach or personal perspective you can’t get for free.”
Hyperion/Voice hopes it has that something different with the latest offering from Erin Bried, author of How to Sew a Button and How to Build a Fire. In How to Rock Your Baby: And Other Timeless Tips for Modern Moms—coming in April with a 75,000-copy planned first printing—Bried provides a primer on caring for little ones using some 100 personal accounts and detailed how-tos.
Square One’s latest full-color parenting guide, Fit Baby, Smart Baby, Your Baby! From Birth to Age Six (Apr.) is by Glenn Doman, Douglas Doman, and Bruce Hagy. And Avery is excited about the prospects of its new pregnancy book from actress Tia Mowry, Oh, Baby! Pregnancy Tales and Advice from One Hot Mama to Another (May). Senior editor Lucia Watson describes Mowry’s book as “a totally hilarious, savvy, and reassuring guide like no other.”
Listings: Activity Time
Go Out and Play! Favorite Outdoor Games from KaBOOM! by Julianna Rose (Mar., $11.99) collects group games for children five and up; stems from the work of nonprofit foundation KaBOOM!, which is dedicated to creating outdoor play space nationally and worldwide.
Honeycomb Kids: Big Picture Parenting for a Changing World… and to Change the World by Anna M. Campbell (Apr., $15.95) helps parents work with kids to make lifestyle changes in becoming more resilient.
The Budding Artist, edited by Laura Laxton. This title from the Budding series (all Apr., $9.95 and geared for the three to six set and their parents) uses common items to undertake simple art projects.
The Budding Builder, edited by Laura Laxton, offers construction projects from toothpick sculptures to bird feeders.
The Budding Scientist, edited by Stephanie Roselli, presents activities to exercise scientific curiosity, from making invisible ink to investigating magnets.
Play These Games: 101 Delightful Diversions Using Everyday Items by Heather Swain (May, $14). The author of Make These Toys presents homemade activities for kids and adults, from Go Fish using family photos to a pinball machine made out of cardboard boxes, clothespins, and rubber bands.
Worm Watching: And Other Wonderful Ways to Teach Children to Pray by Ann Ingalls and Maryann Macdonald (May, $12). Designed to teach children about prayer through play, the authors hope to help parents introducing their kids to spirituality.
Red Leaf Press
Cultivating Outdoor Classrooms: Designing and Implementing Child-Centered Learning Environments by Eric Nelson (Mar., $49.95) explains the importance of classrooms to children’s learning and how educators and families can make them a reality.
Let Them Play: An Early Learning (Un)Curriculum by Jeff A. Johnson and Denita Dinger (Mar., $34.95) teaches kids to think creatively while fostering social and language skills.
Ryland Peters/CICO Books
Eco-Friendly Crafting with Kids by Kate Lilley (Apr., $19.95 hardcover). The blogger behind the popular Mini-eco blog presents fun new projects for pre-school children and adults to make together.
My First Art Activity Book: 35 Fun and Easy Art Projects for Children Aged 7 Years+ by Clare Youngs (Feb., $14.95). From the new CICO Kidz series, instructions on undertaking projects from sponge cloth printing to using magazine paper to make mosaics.
Arlo Needs Glasses by Barney Saltzberg (Apr., paper-over-board, $15.95) helps kids understand that glasses can be cool; includes interactive elements such as glasses to try on.
Here’s a round up of forthcoming titles that use activities to teach children valuable lessons or help them develop new skills—or that just explore the importance of playtime. (Titles are paperbacks unless otherwise noted.)