book review The Scientist in the Crib

I mentioned that I was reading The Scientist in the Crib: Minds, Brains, and How Children Learn by Alison Gopnik, Andrew Meltzoff, and Patricia Kuhl.

This was a great book. I’m so glad I pushed myself through the introduction, which almost lost me, because I really enjoyed the rest of the book. And in fact many of the things that initially annoyed me were later qualified and moderated so that in the end they weren’t nearly so annoying.

I’m afraid I’ve already become a major annoyance to Dom because every few pages I’d be so excited with what I was reading I’d put the book down, seek him out and talk his ear off. Then I also spouted to my sister and my mom. In part the book reminded me of my favorite part of the psychology class I took in high school, the bit where we covered cognitive development. I am utterly fascinated by babies in all their particulars and especially what is going on in those little minds.

The book focuses primarily on three areas: what children learn about people, things, and language.  I especially loved the section that dealt with language acquisition, but it was all good. It also covered what scientists have learned about children’s minds and brains.

The authors detailed not only what they know about children, but how they know it, what experiments they used to arrive at their conclusions. The language is simple, easy to follow and readily understandable to laypersons, and refreshingly free of scientific jargon.

My only real objection to the book is detailed my earlier post, I won’t go into it here.

In any case, I give this book two thumbs up and heartily recommend it to anyone who has ever held a baby and wondered about what is going on in there.

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