"AM I IN TROUBLE?'': Using Discipline to Teach Young Children Responsibility, by Richard Curwin and Allen Mendler. (ETR Associates/Network Publications, $14.95.) The authors sensibly preach that discipline should be "teaching, not repair.'' In other words, discipline fails when approached as a punishment for wrongs; in such a scheme, the child is never more than a potential criminal kept in line by vigilant authorities. True discipline, on the other hand, means teaching children to become responsible for their own behavior. "Am I In Trouble?'' offers many practical suggestions: Parents should encourage rather than blame, set down clearly defined rules, and allow children to make choices. Admittedly, much of the advice in this book seems obvious. Furthermore, the patronizingly simple sentences render this a kind of basal reader for adults. Still, "Am I In Trouble?'' reminds us of the importance of treating children with dignity, and only a cynic would find such a lesson simplistic.
MORE MUDPIES TO MAGNETS: Science for Young Children, by Elizabeth Sherwood, Robert Williams, and Robert Rockwell. (Gryphon House, $16.95.) It's no secret that many children never learn to appreciate science. Too often, it's presented as something abstract and remote--a mystery to be deciphered by geniuses. Happily, More Mudpies To Magnets counteracts this by presenting children with some 130 hands-on scientific experiments and activities. The activities, which use readily available materials, are easy to organize yet never superficial. Children learn important concepts in areas such as chemistry, physics, and meteorology by building a crystal flower garden, re-enacting a Galileo experiment, and simulating a tornado. More Mudpies To Magnets succeeds in teaching that science is no staid activity but a delightful, even messy, process of discovery.
The reviewer, former chairman of the English department at University Lake School in Hartland, Wis., is on leave to write a novel.