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How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: And Other Adventures in Parenting (from Argentina to Tanzania and everywhere in between) Paperback – January 10, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The book is breezy and entertaining and Hopgood is charmingly self-deprecating about her own mothering of the formidable Sofia, who emerges as a sassy character in her own right."—Boston Globe

"A pleasure to read . . . No doubt some details will be too enticing not to try, like recruiting the whole family for meal preparation and training young children to take responsibility for simple tasks. Ultimately, this absorbing assemblage of perspectives will help widen our own." —BookPage

"Throughout her carefully organized text, [Hopgood] shows enormous respect for everyone she speaks with and everything she learns... A best bet for new parents.”—Booklist starred review

"Hopgood’s text is a satisfying mix of research, observation, interview, and personal experience... Readers will laugh, marvel and muse over the many (frequently opposing) child-rearing methods that persist despite the growing globalization of parenthood.”—Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Mei-Ling Hopgood is an award-winning journalist and writer. She lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with her husband and two daughters. Find her online at www.meilinghopgood.com.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (January 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781565129580
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565129580
  • ASIN: 156512958X
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Mei-Ling Hopgood is a top journalist who now teaches at the prestigious Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. For her readers, that means she's a lifelong storyteller, which you'll discover immediately when you dip into this wonderful book of real-life stories that circle the globe.

She is famous in her own right. Born in Taiwan and adopted by an American family at an early age, the bittersweet story of her reunion with her Taiwanese family as an adult appears in her earlier book, Lucky Girl. For most of her early life, Mei-Ling was a typical American: She grew up as a smart, enthusiastic Midwest school kid and even got a spot on her high school pom pom squad. When she became a journalist, her award-winning work appeared in newspapers and magazines nationwide. Before moving with her husband and children to the Chicago area recently, they lived for years in Buenos Aires. Given her global wealth of family experiences, Mei-Ling was fascinated by the vast differences in parenting choices as she circled the planet.

She was completing her new book, How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm, while two other controversial best sellers in this niche were making headlines and burning up websites: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting.
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Since I'm a child psychologist, I found myself intrigued by this book after I heard some interviews with the author on the radio.

I also travel a good deal, and I'm continually struck by cross-cultural differences in child rearing, the freedom (versus not) allocated to young children, and parent-child interactions. On my recent trips to Spain, for example, I saw very few kids or teens who were 'hooked up' to some kind of apararatus, be it an I-pod, hand-held game, or cellphone. The love and affection between children of both sexes and their fathers is also admirable; so sad that we see little of that here (especially between parents of school-age kids or teens).

In our own culture, a good number of parents get overly-invested in 'doing it right.' While this is a concern to parents universally, we have such little support for parents--societal and familial--that it's no wonder their anxiety is so high. Parents contact me all the time, asking for books/references on how best to raise their child, fearing that one woops will damage the kid for life. I usually tell them to read one book on attachment; one on basic child development; and then to forget about the books and get on with the task of parenting.

Though none of us are surprised to learn that there are cross-cultural differences in raising kids, this book helps to illuminate the notions in starking and sometimes surprising detail. What is a way of life in one culture, for example, might warrant a report to child protective services in our own.

In addition to the stories of different cultural perspectives on parenting, the book has a way of pulling the reader in, begging us to take a look at how we were raised, as well as how cultural influences in our past affected our grandparents and parents.
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Format: Paperback
This is well written and a fast read but it isn't really useful if you're looking for parenting tips - it's laid out as part memoir part light (very light) cultural anthropology. You learn a lot about Mei Ling as an adopted Chinese American and her American husband and their ex-patriate life, and her various worries.

I was looking for a book that would delve into, and tell me how to implement awesome practices other cultures might have. But this book just explores subjects that are pretty familiar to the average reading momma-to-be (at least, I assume so). i.e: if you've already looked into baby-wearing and E.C., you won't find anything more interesting here (although you will get some good research supporting why/how - for example, she went in depth into how 'early potty training' is completely discouraged by cultures that have disposable diaper industries, to the extent that now it is considered acceptable to keep your kids in diapers until 4 or even 5 years old). But we already knew that, didn't we? :)

Bottom line: I'm happy I got this from the library because while you may find it a breezy, interesting read in passing, it doesn't merit a place on your permanent shelf.
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The book gives a global perspective on parenting in a non-judgmental way. This perspective helped me see this trivial nature of some of the things we parents unnecessarily obsess about. The author researched her data thoroughly and her personal stories as an American ex-pat mom were refreshingly honest and relatable. I highly recommend this book for the parents of a young baby or toddler.
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