Saturday, March 7, 2015

Reading List: Academic Gifts

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The parents and teachers of gifted children are often in need of information about how these special students learn and how to help them reach their fullest potential. These resources are a good introduction to the unique characteristics and needs of gifted children, including the profoundly gifted.

Davidson, J. & Davidson, B. (2004). Genius denied: How to stop wasting our brightest young minds.New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. 
The authors, founders of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, write in a conversational style and avoid education school jargon. Jan and Bob Davidson have worked with many gifted children and are familiar with the problems parents and students face when seeking an appropriately challenging school environment. This book does a good job of explaining how gifted children push their parents with their thirst for mastery of new material. Parents who have been accused of being pushy will be relieved to find that somebody understands their situation. The Davidsons do not merely criticize schools; they devote an entire chapter to "School Solutions'" with examples of programs that meet the needs of gifted students.

Herrnstein, R. & Murray, C. (1994). The bell curve: Intelligence and class structure in American life. New York: Free Press. 

The paperback version of The Bell Curve is over 800 pages. Although written by scholars, the writing is accessible to any educated reader; regression analysis and other technical notes are in appendices for those who want to study them. The authors were criticized for some of their conclusions, but they had the courage to ask difficult questions about intelligence and social behavior. Most of the critics focused on chapters 13 and 14, which examined aggregate ethnic differences in IQ, while failing to recognize chapters 17 through 22 which addressed how people of different cognitive abilities can and should live harmoniously together.

Winner, E. (1996). Gifted children: Myths and realities. New York: Basic Books. 

Ellen Winner focuses on nine common myths about gifted children, answering myths with facts and gripping stories of profoundly gifted children. Parents or teachers of profoundly gifted children will find in this book stories of people like them and how they worked with their special children. They will also find ammunition to answer those who hold to the myths about which Winner writes.