What should you read this weekend? USA TODAY’s picks for book lovers include Achtung Baby, a parenting guide for Americans that suggests maybe the Germans do it better.
Achtung Baby: An American Mom on the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children by Sara Zaske; Picador, 239 pp.; non-fiction
America may be the land of the free, home of the brave, but it’s Germany whose children display independence and whose parents have the courage to take a step back, Sara Zaske writes in Achtung Baby.
Zaske and her husband left Oregon for Germany, toddler in tow. They welcomed a baby boy shortly after moving to Berlin, so they experienced everything from childbirth to grade school as expat parents.
Differences are notable from the get-go, from baby’s sleep (only one in five German parents stay in the room as their wee ones nod off) to government-subsidized, overwhelmingly common early childcare, which Zaske says leads to less “mom guilt.”
Many of the differences Zaske points out between Germany and the USA could also be made about 1970s America and today’s. Many kids in Germany, like American children before helicopter parenting, Zaske writes:
► Spend more time outdoors.
► Walk or bike to and from school or the playground by themselves — a move that in the U.S. can result in having the police called on you.
► Engage in what is now sometimes called “free play” — formerly known as simply “play” — without direction from parents, teachers or coaches.
Zaske puts it plainly: “We raise free and responsible children by giving them freedom and responsibility.”
USA TODAY says ★★★ out of four. Achtung Baby is “not judgmental, prescriptive or didactic… ideal for parents of young ones.”
The Man Who Made the Movies by Vanda Krefft; Harper, 755 pp.; non-fiction
A biography of William Fox, the driven immigrant behind what became 20th Century Fox, who went from peddling candies as a child of the 1890s to studio head by 1915.
USA TODAY says ★★★★. A “big, brassy production of a book.”
Spy of the First Person by Sam Shepard; Knopf, 82 pp.; fiction
In this slender, cryptic, almost hallucinatory work of autobiographical fiction, an unnamed narrator grapples with an ALS-like illness; Shepard died of complications of the disease (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) at age 73 last year.
USA TODAY says ★★★….