Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Non-Fiction
Heads Up Psychology

Heads Up Psychology

Spring 2014 Non-Fiction
Ages: 13 - 19 yrs.
Author: Marcus Weeks
Publisher: DK Publishing
ISBN: 978-146541993
Hardcover Price: $15.99

Here's a book that might help students move to the "head" of the class—at least figuratively speaking. In fact, this breezy, 162-page look into the world of self-centered psychology is about as hands-on as it gets for high schoolers contemplating psychological ideas, theories, applications and, most essentially, themselves.

The chapter headings are in every teenage-angst wheelhouse: What Makes Me Tick? What Makes Me Unique? Where Do I Fit In?

The book starts out with easy-to-understand summaries of the approaches to psychology, including throughout the thoughts and theories of more than 60 prominent psychologists. And all that attention to the theoretical provides a good basis for understanding what psychology is and how it can be useful—examining everything from how we remember to how our personalities develop and change.

But most of this book pushes real-world psychological buttons that resonate with most teens, exploring such questions as "Who needs parents, anyway?" and "Why do I feel so angry all the time?" and "Why good people do bad things" and "Do guys think like girls?"

Psychology, of course, isn't the simplest of subjects, particularly when it is this kind of look-in-the-mirror psychology. But the publisher DK has for decades been honing the art of encyclopedic references tackling big topics. So this book, like most DK books, follows a tried-and-true design. It mixes simplified explanations of a difficult subject with smart graphics, charts and diagrams, mini-bios of important psychologists (Freud, Pavlov, Allport, and etcetera), even some research experiments.

While DK points out that the book "supports the Common Core State Standards," more importantly it supports the kinds of questions that show up on teen radars daily. And, beyond any academic relevance, that alone makes this book worthwhile.

Don Oldenburg   ©2014 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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