5 Good Books for Parents of Gifted Kids

You’re feeling pretty sure your little boy or girl is different and you’re concerned. What’s my role? Is he the same as other kids emotionally? How can our school help? What about testing? You know you need some help understanding what raising a gifted child means...and luckily there are some great tools out there.

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Six to ten percent of the U.S. student population, or between 3 and 4 million kids, are identified as gifted. And gifted children require different kinds of teaching and different access to educational material and opportunities. All that costs money, of course. But surprisingly, only 25 states recognize the need to provide educational funding for gifted children.

You can check out your state’s attitude towards educating gifted children on the National Association for Gifted Children website, under the “Gifted by State” menu item. They maintain a database of each state’s definition of giftedness and their commitment to funding...or not. Because of the lack of funding, more and more bright children and their parents are choosing home education, virtual academies, charter schools, or vouchers that give them access to private schools.

The National Association for Gifted Children is measured in its support of Common Core educational policies for bright children. Although the new content standards are considered to be more rigorous than most current state standards, they fall short in meeting the specific needs of gifted learners, and if held strictly to the standard, could actually limit learning.

This throws lots of responsibility back onto parents to help their bright and talented children get the education they need. These children are different and they need different kinds of treatment. Reading books about giftedness and the school system is a good place for a parent to start. Here are a few books to check out:

101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids

By Christine Fonseca

This interesting book is really designed as a handbook to be used by gifted children 8 to 12 years old on an as needed basis. Chapters have titles such as, “I'm Not Crazy, I’m Just Smart,” “If I Was Really Smart This Wouldn’t Be So Hard,” and “What Is Normal Anyways?” It offers gifted kids practical advice and tips for success in school, friendships, and family life. For instance, Success Secret # 26, “Embrace Your Intensity,” helps a child develop compassion for his own vibrant responses to life. This is a very user-friendly book that helps gifted kids feel some control over their differentness – and it’s fun with quizzes and other hands-on activities.

Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind

By Deborah L. Ruf

Deborah L. Ruf is a specialist, working with highly intelligent gifted children and adults. She describes five levels of giftedness, with detailed descriptions of the behaviors, thoughts, accomplishments, and test scores at each level. She takes parents through the pitfalls of discovering your child is different, to possible medical and psychiatric misdiagnoses, to the difficulties of finding good resources for help and dealing with the loneliness parents can feel. This book makes it clear that there are radical adjustments ahead when you’ve got a gifted child. The author also gives extensive information on the educational needs of the various levels of IQ scores, so parents can know what to look for in their school system. And there are also vignettes included from 50 different families.

Parenting Gifted Kids: Tips for Raising Happy and Successful Gifted Children

By James Delisle, Ph.D.

This book is a classic from a few years back and has won the gifted education Legacy Award. Delisle critiques schools’ inability to support gifted children. But more than that, he gives us a peek into the inner landscape of the gifted child. Delisle really helps bridge the gap between parents and gifted kids, showing how gifted children think, process, and interact with their surroundings in a more vivid way. He also provides insights on how parents can help with some of their child’s inner struggles with information on character building, dealing with perfectionism, and helping gifted kids develop a life of deep meaning.

There is nothing stuffy about this book – Delisle is actually funny, engaging, and down to earth. Additionally, stories from gifted children and their parents add extra insight.

Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential

By Eileen Kennedy-Moore & Mark S. Lowenthal

Gifted, or smart, kids can be plagued by perfectionism, by the burden of other people’s expectations, by fear of making effort because things generally come easily for them, and most painfully, they often have trouble in friendships because of their quirks. Dr. Moore advises parents on how to understand the three components of inner motivation; competence, autonomy, and emotional connection – and how to help gifted children build meaning in their lives beyond academic achievement. A treasure trove of strategies for parents, the book is compassionate, forgiving, and filled with real-life vignettes that will resonate. There is information on helping very sensitive, excitable kids learn to cope with their feelings, and how to enable gifted children to move beyond their burden of potential.

Genius Denied: How to Stop Wasting our Brightest Young Minds

By Jan & Bob Davidson with Laura Vanderkam

“At a time when our country needs a deep intellectual talent pool, the squandering of these bright young minds is a national tragedy,” according to authors Davidson and Vanderkam. Thousands of gifted and talented students languish, bored, in classrooms. Genius Denied will light a fire under you and turn you into your child’s best advocate for his education when you read the many case histories of schools that blatantly ignore bright children’s needs. The authors feel that mistaken ideas about creating an egalitarian world cause schools to be prejudice against gifted kids. Practical advice is given in how to work with the schools to get the most you can, and how to find mentors to fill in the educational gaps.

What are some of your favorite reads when it comes to learning about giftedness?

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