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Professional Books

Leadership Skills in the Early Years: Making a difference by June O'Sullivan (Continuum Books, ISBN: 978-1855394704).

Reviewed by Sian Nisbett, director of Dizzy Ducks Day Nursery, which owns three nurseries in Essex.

This book has a good emphasis on self-evaluation, encouraging the reader to constantly question and reflect on the quality of their work. It made me think about what I do well as a manager and what I just think I do well! It made me reflect on such issues as how well I engage with my staff and encouraged me to reflect on how things I do really impact on the running of the nursery. And it made me assess the value of staff meetings, questionnaires and the like: are meetings minuted and followed up? Are staff questionnaires purely a token gesture and not acted upon?

Its quite detailed content makes this more suitable to be used as a reference book, rather than a text to be read in one go.

It would be most useful for those studying the mechanics of management and leadership, but is also a book for managers' shelves, to be referred to from time to time as a reminder of the basics of management and the fundamental aspects of maintaining a good setting. It would also be useful for early years practitioners to see what their managers have to contend with on a daily basis!

The Child: An encyclopedic companion - From birth through adolescence

Edited by Richard A Shweder (University of Chicago Press, £51.50, ISBN: 978-0-226-47539-4)

The Child aims to provide parents and professionals with reliable information and access to the best scholarship from all areas of child studies - and from all regions of the world - in a single-volume reference.

This encyclopaedic companion brings together contemporary research on children and childhood from paediatrics, child psychology, childhood studies, education, sociology, history, law, anthropology, and other related areas - in sum, more than 500 articles, all written by experts in their fields and overseen by noted anthropologist Richard A Shweder.

Each entry begins with a concise and accessible synopsis of the topic at hand. For example, 'adoption' begins with a general definition, followed by a detailed look at adoption in different cultures and at different times, a summary of the associated mental and developmental issues that can arise, and an overview of applicable legal and public policy, both within the United States and elsewhere.

Entries also include multiple cross-references to guide readers toward related topics within the volume, plus suggestions for further reading.

While many of the entries address universal, biological facts about children, they also consider the many worlds of childhood within the United States and around the globe.

Alongside the topical articles, The Child includes more than 40 'Imagining Each Other' essays, which focus on the experiences of particular children in different cultures.

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