Nonfiction Book Reviews

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Magic Trees of the Mind by Marian Diamond, Ph.D. and Janet Hopson

Plume, Jan., 1999.
Trade Paperback, 499 pages.
ISBN: 0670882828.
Ordering information:

Magic Trees of the Mind
by Marian Diamond, Ph.D. and Janet Hopson It was very fortunate for all children and parents that day in June, 1984 when Janet Hopson, a journalist with a scientific interest, met Dr. Marian Diamond, a renowned researcher in the field of brain anatomy as well as director of Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California at Berkeley. That day began a twenty year collaboration that has culminated in a book that really must be in the libraries of parents and teachers of children everywhere. This book is one of those liberating manuals that can give confidence to parents and a blueprint to all who are involved in shepherding the next generation into fulfillment.

The scientific discovery that was opened up by Marian Diamond not only initiated a new field of scientific inquiry, but it offered mankind a way to maximize the development of brain neurons through mental stimulation. Dr. Diamond's research has provided what is tantamount to discovering the benefits of vitamins and exercise for the brain at all levels. Not only has her work demonstrated that stimulation at all stages increases the formation of neurons, but she has shown how this is absolutely essential in the early years if any given child is to even begin to reach his potential.

The frightening and horrifying picture of the future of children living in deprived environments is the dark side of this research. Dr. Diamond's research has shown how lack of stimulation actually causes parts of the brain to shut down and fail to develop new connections. For this very reason, we must convince the public and its elected representatives of the importance of this research for the future of all of civilization.

Chapter Three, "Feed My Brain: Influences in the Womb" is particularly interesting since it gives scientific verification to what was one relegated to "old wives' tales". The belief that a child can be "marked" by what happens to its mother before birth was laughed at by all modern types for much of the twentieth century. Now at the beginning of the second millennium we are finding that the old wisdom of our ancestors has value. Just reading this chapter is enough to make one want to hand out marked copies to every youngster of child bearing age, because the birth of a healthy child depends on the health of its parents before conception. This knowledge should be in the hands of all those capable of giving life to a new but defenseless human being. Just as one generation made certain that a certain book by Dr. Spock was in most homes, this book is an absolute must for the busy and overly scheduled lives of today's young parents.

After reading carefully, and at times being shocked at the vulnerability of a growing brain, the reader may feel overwhelmed. In order to counteract this feeling, the authors have included a resource guide at the end of the book that is as comprehensive as an atlas. Included in this section is a bibliography for further reading, a list of online resources, lists of catalogs, and a list of age and gender-related toys and games. Also included is a bibliography of suitable books for young people arranged in the same way. Lists of suitable activities up to the age of fifteen are included. Not only is this section what every parent needs, it will most certainly be helpful for grandparents and other relatives at gift-giving times.

Magic Trees of the Mind carries on the tradition of groundbreaking research in the field of human development. It belongs on the shelf with the pioneering work of Maria Montessori's Absorbent Mind and the observations of Piaget.

Napolean Hill's Keys to Positive Thinking by Napolean Hill and Michael J. Ritt, Jr.

Plume, January 1999.
Paperback, 174 pages.
ISBN: 0452279054.
Ordering information:

Napolean Hill's Keys to Positive Thinking
by Napolean Hill This self-help reference from Michael J. Ritt Jr., collects and expands on the work of Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich. The book contains advice and information on using positive thinking to achieve your goals. The book provides ten steps to developing your Positive Mental Attitude (PMA), with a complete chapter devoted to each step. As defined by Napoleon Hill, PMA is "a confident, honest, constructive state of mind which an individual creates and maintains by methods of his own choosing, through the operation of his own willpower, based on the motives of his own adaptation." Some of the ten PMA steps in the book include "Take possession of your own mind," "Form a habit of tolerance," "Set goals and study," and "Think and plan daily." Each chapter includes instruction on how to meet the objective, exercises to try and inspirational comments from others who have found success. This additional resource from the author of Think and Grow Rich is full of practical advice and examples to inspire you to curb negative thoughts and develop your positive energy so you can live a better life and accomplish all your goals.

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