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***INSTANT New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestseller***
2023 Gold Winner — Nautilus Book Award
World-class pediatric surgeon, social scientist, and best-selling author of Thirty Million Words Dr. Dana Suskind returns with a revelatory new look at the neuroscience of early childhood development—and how it can guide us toward a future in which every child has the opportunity to fulfill their potential.
Her prescription for this more prosperous and equitable future, as clear as it is powerful, is more robust support for parents during the most critical years of their children’s development. In her poignant new book, Parent Nation, written with award-winning science writer Lydia Denworth, Dr. Suskind helps parents recognize both their collective identity and their formidable power as custodians of our next generation.
Weaving together the latest science on the developing brain with heart-breaking and relatable stories of families from all walks of life, Dr. Suskind shows that the status quo—scores of parents convinced they should be able to shoulder the enormous responsibility of early childhood care and education on their own—is not only unsustainable, but deeply detrimental to the wellbeing of children, families, and society.
Anyone looking for a blueprint for how to build a brighter future for our children will find one in Parent Nation. Informed by the science of foundational brain development as well as history, political science, and the lived experiences of families around the country, this book clearly outlines how society can and should help families meet the developmental needs of their children. Only then can we ensure that all children are able to enjoy the promise of their potential.
About the Author
Dana Suskind, MD, is founder and co-director of the TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health, director of the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Program, and professor of Surgery and Pediatrics at the University of Chicago. Dr. Suskind is the author of over forty-five scientific publications and Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain. She is a member of the American Academic of Pediatrics and a fellow for the Council on Early Childhood. Her work has been profiled by numerous media outlets, including The New York Times, The Economist, Forbes, NPR, and Freakonomics.
Lydia Denworth is an award-winning science writer and a contributing editor at Scientific American. She is the author of several books of popular science including Friendship: The Evolution, Biology and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond and I Can Hear You Whisper: An Intimate Journey Through the Science of Sound and Language.
"These wrenching stories of parents driven to the brink by a broken system make policy issues feel powerfully personal. This is an incisive and persuasive call to action."
"A well-known pediatric otolaryngologist advocates for large-scale changes to American social policy as it pertains to children… A sensible case for the necessity of strengthening social services and for making pediatricians’ offices hubs where families can easily access these services, particularly when they are in distress."
"A manifesto, and a handbook, for what we as individuals and as a society are morally called to do for all kids to thrive. Required reading for anyone who has ever loved a child."
—Angela Duckworth, founder and CEO of Character Lab, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, MacArthur Fellow, and author of NYT Bestseller Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
"The best thing we can do for our children (and ourselves!) is to heed the call to action in this timely, important and beautiful book. Parent Nation lays out a powerful science-based framework that will lead us to healthier children, happier parents, and stronger communities."
—Emily Oster, professor of economics at Brown University and New York Times bestselling author of the 3-book series Expecting Better, Cribsheet, and The Family Firm
"At a time when America seems hopelessly polarized, Dr. Dana Suskind shows us how it is possible to work together across political divides for the wellbeing of our children, our families, and our communities. Filled with poignant stories, clarifying data, and practical proposals, Parent Nation offers a stirring call to action."
—Kristin Kobes Du Mez, Professor of History at Calvin University and New York Times bestselling author of Jesus and John Wayne
"Dr. Dana Suskind brings medical science and social science together in this lucid and important book, making the personal political in the best possible way, to argue passionately for how our country can and should support parents so that they can do what they most want to do--care for the children they love."
—Perri Klass, MD, professor of pediatrics and journalism at New York University and author of A Good Time to Be Born and The New York Times column The Checkup
"Dr. Dana Suskind delivers a beautifully written book, backed by history and science and fueled by elegant and powerful prose. As parents of two separate generations—one of us a single mother who fought to maintain presence in the lives of her children and the other, a dad who fights daily to provide better and more equitable futures for his and all kids—this book offers a clarion call for parents to band together and create a society that lifts up and supports all families. As mother and son, we stand united, ready to join the fight that Parent Nation so brilliantly lays out."
—Wes Moore, New York Times bestselling author of The Other Wes Moore and his mother Joy Thomas Moore, author of The Power of Presence
"Parent Nation makes clear that a child's first three years of life are a time of unparalleled brain growth, and our public policies need to reflect that reality. Societal supports for parents that begin on a child’s first day of life, when learning begins, are the missing components in our nation's education system. Dr. Suskind's sensible and actionable recommendations illuminate our path to a future where all children are given a sturdy foundation and an opportunity to meet their inherent potential."
—Arne Duncan, former U.S. Secretary of Education and author of How Schools Work
"A powerful reminder that we know too much about the critical importance of early brain development to continue treating children's first years as anything other than a paramount driver of health in our communities. Supporting children means supporting the adults that care for them; calling for and investing in coordinated, quality early childhood systems, and elevating businesses and governments that provide these vital structures – that’s the work of all of us."
—Steve Nash, former NBA All-Star and MVP, Coach of the Brooklyn Nets, President, The Steve Nash Foundation: Growing Health in Kids
"In Parent Nation, Dana Suskind compellingly argues that supporting parents as they raise young children should be a national priority. With empathy and a sense of urgency, Suskind movingly lays out why the neuroscience of early childhood development makes those years so critical. Parent Nation is nothing less than a call for action."
—Alex Kotlowitz, bestselling author of There Are No Children Here