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Parenting Book Trends

Saturday, March 26, 2005
first for women

There's a fascinating article about trends in books about mothering -- and, specifically, the future of the so-called momoir -- over at Brain, Child -- one of the most influential magazines about mothering. Thanks to Baldo for the link.

As you would imagine, I hear a lot about parenting book publishing trends -- what's hot, what's not; what's in, what's out -- and I have a few opinions on this subject that I'd like to share:
(1) There will always be a market for authentic, first-person accounts of motherhood. The genres, forms, and styles may shift -- and the labels applied to those writings may change -- but mothers will always hunger for the chance to read about other mothers' experiences of mothering. (Previous generations of moms enjoyed Jean Kerr's Please Don't Eat the Daisies, Shirley Jackson's Life Among the Savages, and Erma Bombeck's If Life is a Bowl of Cherries What Am I Doing in the Pits?. Clearly, humor was the genre du jour for this generation of moms.) And, in our Mom University interview earlier this week, Jen of MUBAR (Mothered Up Beyond All Recognition stresssed how much books by writers like Anne Lamott, Andrea Buchanan, and Faulkner Fox have meant to her.

(2) There will always be a market for "how to" parenting guides, but parents no longer want super-bossy parenting books that serve up overly simplistic and unhelpful solutions. They want real-world advice that applies to their lives and that recognizes that there's no one-size-fits-all solution that applies to every parent and every kid.

(3) Parents want to be recognized as the true experts when it comes to their own kids. A "doctor knows best" approach simply doesn't fly with this generation of parents -- well, at least not the parents I know. Parents value the input of doctors and other health professionals on a range of parenting issues, but they see these professionals as resource people rather than the all-knowing experts on anything and everything parenting-related. (How could they possibly know your child better than you do when they only see your child during so many 15 minute visits per year?)

Anyway, I think that mothering books and parenting guides are definitely evolving for the better, and I for one am loving the increasing diversity in this category.

I also love the fact that it's no longer a crime to inject humor into pregnancy and parenting books. (For a while there, it seemed like it was a crime punishable by death and/or the eighth deadly sin.)

| posted by Ann D @ 4:32 PM