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If you only read one book this summer...

This month, we’ve been asking our Educational Psychologists, if you could only recommend one book for school professionals, what would it be? Here are their reviews.

Amy chose ‘The boy who was raised as a dog’ by Dr Bruce D. Perry and Maia Szalavitz.

“A number of Educational Psychologists recommended this book to me but it took me a while to get round to reading it. I wish I’d read it sooner! Unlike a textbook, the authors have arranged this book to tell a story. Each chapter provides a detailed account of the children that Dr Bruce Perry has worked with, all of whom have experienced significant trauma. Alongside the narrative of the book, theory around attachment and trauma is presented to help the reader to understand the underlying psychology. Whilst the circumstances through which Dr Bruce Perry finds himself working with these children are often harrowing, there is an overall feeling of hope that resonates from the book, with an emphasis being placed on the brain’s elasticity and the power of strong, trusting relationships. As a child psychologist, I thought I had a pretty firm understanding of attachment, but this book gives the reader such vivid case studies through which to apply one's learning. I believe everyone who works with children and young people should read this book.”

Anisa chose ‘The boy who would be a helicopter’ by Vivian Gussin Paley.

"I acquire this book from an Educational Psychologist nearing retirement who was clearing out their library. It took me a while to get to read it but once I did, I was pleasantly transported to the world of play, friendships and society created in a preschool classroom. Vivian gently and sensitively explores these tenants through storytelling and with a focus on one boy who can be seen as isolated within the classroom community. This book delights in the creativity and curiosity of developing minds, and invites us to give space for the important but unspoken aspects of school and classroom life (at any age); relationships, connection, and belonging aren't just things that matter at home, they are vital in school too. I would recommend this book to educators working with students of any age, because whilst focussed on younger children, the key messages span all of education."

Kathryn chose ‘You can’t say you can’t play’ by Vivian Gussin Paley.

“I loved the central approach of this book, which was a gentle exploration of the community of a classroom and school. Through stories of the children, the author explores the relationships that they make with one another and how central these are to how they come to value themselves. The author is an interested and compassionate witness, noticing that the children who are excluded from the social life of the classroom are most often the ones who experience isolation or rejection in many other areas of life too. She is not content to stay uninvolved however- with a deep realisation of the impact a teacher can have on the classroom, she introduces one rule that gets to the heart of the problem, mappings out what happens when she introduces one simple rule ‘you can’t say you can’t play’. In this controversial move, she deftly removes the children’s ability to use school as a place to learn about how to use social power to isolate others and develops her community as one where the children learn what it takes to find a way to relate to the people they are learning with. I recommend this book to anyone to wants to rekindle a sense of the importance of schooling as an act of liberation and transformation.”

As we wrote the paragraphs separately, Anisa and Kathryn only realised that they liked the same author when they read this blog! It was a relief that we had not chosen the same book!

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