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Mar 05 2013

Book review: Giftedness 101 by Dr. Linda Silverman

Reading books on the topic of giftedness is difficult for me, something I’ve shamefully admitted to before. Once I’ve gotten through the day, homeschooling a twice-exceptional son with all the fun that often entails, the last thing I want to do in my last few moments of semi-consciousness is read about what I just survived that day. This has, very sadly, been true for going on eight years now. I have several shelves of books on this topic, and I think I’ve read maybe four of them, including my own.

That number is now a whopping five. The rest live on in the queue, mocking me.

I ordered Dr. Linda Silverman’s new book, Giftedness 101, the moment it was available for pre-order. This is not hyperbole by any stretch; I saw the announcement on Facebook and whipped that debit card right out of my wallet. Take my money, please. Then I had to wait for several weeks. Thankfully, I had the craziness of the holidays as a distraction. When I did get it, there was much oohing and ahhing and incoherent (yet delighted) shock when I discovered my book was cited several times.

I’m embarrassed that it took me as long as it did to read this. No one reason, really, just a whole bunch of little ones. Homeschooling, job hunting (a soul-sucking endeavor if anything), the psychological misery that is February in Chicago, obligations atop obligations. But read I did, and when I finished, the poor paperback looked like…well…

Giftedness 101

It might have been easier to just mark the pages where I didn’t underline text. I ran out of little sticky notes and had to resort to dog-earing pages. Yes, I loved it that much.

Some thoughts on the book. The focus here is on giftedness as a holistic psychological issue, not giftedness as talent development. It is written for psychologists and psychology students. I can see it easily being a text in a psychology course, and hopefully it will be used as such. School psychologists and gifted coordinators need to read this and keep it on their shelves before frustrated parents smack them with it. The book gave me an in-depth history of gifted psychology and gifted education, and now I understand the struggles a lot more. In a way it’s discouraging, as the same arguments and counter-arguments have been going on for over a century. This is the most thorough history, explanation, and call to action for gifted advocates you will find.

The parts I found most helpful (for me) were towards the end. The chapter, Comprehensive Assessment of Giftedness, really got into the nitty-gritty of IQ and achievement tests. Though we got a very detailed report from the Gifted Development Center when A was tested there, I understood his results a lot better after reading parts of this chapter with his report in front of me. Doesn’t make homeschooling The Most Complex Child on the Planet™ any easier, but at least I’m comforted knowing that he’s in the best place for him right now. The chapter, Optimal Development of the Gifted, is for and about parents of the gifted. This is the chapter I plan to return to frequently as I work on my next book, on the needs of parents. This is also the chapter where I dog-eared every single page. I especially appreciated the section on siblings. My heart breaks every time J asks if he’s gifted. I honestly don’t know if he is, we can’t afford to have him assessed, and don’t exactly have a compelling reason to do so. Reading that siblings tend to be within 5-13 points of each other (p 208) and that the secondborns “usually demonstrate opposite personalities, tendencies, and interests” (p 209) eases my mind. A and J couldn’t be any more different in personality, tendency, and interests, that’s for sure.

This is not a quick and easy read, but it is a valuable and important one. It is the in-depth background that parents and advocates really do need to have, so they can advocate for their children with confident knowledge of the issues and facts. It is the introduction to giftedness as a psychological issue for the psychology student and a reminder for the professional psychologist. It is a thought-provoking read, one that educational psychologists, social workers, and gifted coordinators really need.

I really enjoyed the book, though it took me just short of forever to read it (dear children, quit trying to talk to me while I’m reading). This is one of very few that I know I will return to over and over as we raise our boys. It’s too bad there isn’t an official field of gifted psychology, for I’d consider returning to school for that. Instead I’ll design my own degree in the area of giftedness, starting with this book.

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The book’s publisher, Springer Publishing Company, has offered to send a free copy of Giftedness 101 to one of my blog readers. If you’re interested, please leave a comment detailing what you think you’d learn from the book, and I’ll pull a random name on Saturday, March 9th. Thanks!

UPDATE: Congratulations to Jodi, commenter #24, as Random Number Generator pulled that number for the book giveaway. Screen Shot 2013-03-10 at 1.34.53 PM

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  1. Monica Morrell

    Thank you for your review of this book! Like you, I have many books on giftedness and don’t have the time to read them or just need a breather from eating, sleeping, and breathing it. 🙂 I think I would love to learn more about the sibling connection. I have two DS (12 and 6) who are very much opposites and even though I haven’t had the younger one tested, I can still tell he is gifted…just presents it differently, with a possible 2e- reading issue. Thank you for the opportunity to win this great resource and the recommendation to give it to people in the psych. field. 🙂

  2. Suzanne

    Thanks for the review! I’ve been wondering if I should order it. My daughter is one of those 150+ IQ people and they can’t decide if she’s “only” gifted, or has ADHD-I too. We read everything we can on the subject to try to do our best for her!

    By the way, I LOVE love love your book, and have given it to several friends too!

  3. Lisa Moss

    As a parent of a gifted/2e child and wife of a probable gifted husband, the section that you mentioned: Optimal Development of the Gifted sounds quite intriguing to me. I do not homeschool, but know the gifted population inlcluding my child are underserved and want to help him and the system to challenge and foster the growth that needs to happen for this population.

  4. Amy

    I received my undergrad in Psychology, so I think the part that it will have a focus on the psychology aspect of giftedness is intriguing in itself. I am also starting down the “your child has a behavior disorder” path with my Kindergartner, who I do not feel has anything but a different kind of brain -that needs a different type of learning style, depth, etc.

    I recommend if anyone wants to check it out, Amazon has it available with a “look inside” option. I appreciate this posting. With the many, many gifted books out there to filter through, it is nice to know how this one stands out.

  5. Julie

    I would love to learn more about how to help my son in school. He is in a gifted school (just started this school year) which has helped quite a bit, but I need to understand how someone can be so smart yet can’t pay attention in class, can’t finish taking a test in less than 3 class periods, and can’t remember to turn in the homework that seemingly was going to end his life just the night before! I need to learn everything!

  6. Laurel

    This is such a helpful review. I like to read in depth about psychology. I think my daughter is gifted as a leader and organizer of people (not tested), and my son is diagnosed ADHD-inattentive, and mild dysgraphia. He is a creative thinker and artist but also not assessed for giftedness. His 504 plan at school helps but I feel something is sorely missing. I’m looking into sensory-motor therapies, don’t want medication.
    Thanks for sharing this book.

  7. Kimberly

    I am just another wine-chugging, hair-pulling (my own hair, that is) mom 2e mom who, hanging on by her crusty, blood & grit-filled nails has to hope that somewhere out there is the idea/book/concept that will restore her to her previous partial sanity…or at least help her public interactions progress from a Marty Feldman-eyed grunt to something more congenial.

    1. Jen

      Comment FTW. 😀 Laughed me out of my Chicago snowpocalypse funk. LOL

      1. Kimberly

        Ah yes, what goes around comes around… 😉

  8. BeckyG

    I need all the help I can get, so the whole book would be great, but I’m especially interested in the sibling and testing parts. I find it hard to read books on giftedness because they bring up too much of my own painful or misunderstood childhood years. I wish my parents had had access to a book like this, and been the type to read it. Oh well, they did the best they could with what they had. I hope to do better for my children, hopefully without putting too many of my own wishes and issues on them. I hope your new book has a chapter called – dealing with your own gifted issues so you can clearly see your kids… Or something like that. 🙂

  9. Jen

    I’ll raise my hand as another mom of a 2e kid. And wow, what don’t I want to know about my son?! Some things I get, but there are aspects of his personality that seem positively foreign to me sometimes. While I know no book will ever help me figure out exactly how he thinks, I hope this one can get me a little closer.

  10. Kate

    Thank you for this review. This book actually seems worth the read. The section on optimal development seems like something I need as I worry tremendously that I am either pushing too hard to not stimulating enough, especially with my 2e kids. And the sibling stuff is where I would head first. Sibling issues seem to be ruling my house these days and I don’t even know where to start managing things.

  11. Shannon

    I need this book in my hands. Our oldest son (only have two) is the most complex, intriguing, perplexing, sensitive, thought provoking, precocious, sharp witted being that has ever come into our life.

    Recently diagnosed ADHD and clearly gifted in unique ways.

    WHAT do we do now?!

    He is rocking our world.

  12. J

    I’m so glad to read your review. I’ve been curious about Silverman’s new book myself. I’ve read her other books as well as those by Gilman and now YOU! (Plus, others the GDC recommends, like Piechowski…) The history of gifted education is particularly interesting as I think it would shed light on why we have had our issues in the public school sector. We are new to homeschooling (ie. current year mid-semester drop-outs.) Many of my friends are public school teachers and they just don’t “get it.” I love them, but they are of the “multiple intelligences” viewpoint while I would express that as “multiple aptitudes.” They have no appreciation for the psychology of the gifted either and perceive me to be protecting an “ill behaved” child. Ho-hum.

  13. Helen

    Oh, this book is on my to-read list for sure. I have heard such wonderful things about Dr Silverman, but have yet to read anything by her. I love a book that comes with a good review!

  14. Leanne

    I think I’d learn about my child as a whole and how to support her when she’s a bit of a mystery! I’m also looking for ideas for assessing how her current educational situation is meeting her needs.

  15. Ami

    I am hoping to learn a little about what this means.

  16. alison

    this is on my list! why don’t more libraries carry these essential materials?

  17. Sherry

    Another mom of a 2e kid here. I just want to understand more about him, and I think this book could help with that. I feel like I understand less and less about him as time goes on!

  18. Karen A.

    I can relate to this post on so many levels, even the “soul-sucking job search” and the obligation upon obligation life that has been happening lately. Our soon to be 8 year old son is recently diagnosed ADHD, with a hyperactivity and impulsivity focus and I am certain he is gifted as well, but the school is dragging their feet on testing. Since his ADHD doesn’t interfere with his ability to learn, he isn’t hurting the schools overall test scores. I am trying to read as much as I can but it is daunting like you say after a full day of kids, sometimes it is the last thing I want to look at. But, this book sounds really well done and I would like to especially read the chapter on parents and on testing. I am looking forward to your parent book coming out. It’s so helpful to read about what others are going through. Thanks.

  19. Phyllis

    I recently received my gifted certification to teach grades P-12. I would love to add this to my library of school resources. I currently teach the gifted in several schools in Alabama. I would love to learn more of how this book talks about giftedness as a psychological issue. Many parents feel it is a “special award” to have a gifted child. That is not always the case. I think this book would be a great resource for me to use daily. Thank you

  20. monera

    Can’t wait to read it.

  21. innreach

    Comment comment comment… teehee… I really really want this book Jen…. She’s a coming to Kentucky.. I hope there is some way you could make it too… teehee

  22. Benoit

    I’d learn English.

    😉

  23. Louise Gibbens

    Hi there. I’m very new to all of this and could certainly do with a 101 crash course in giftedness! My eldest boy is only 6yrs old and was referred way back when he was 4 to a clinical psychologist for anxiety, obsessionality, possible Aspergers. This is how we learnt about his IQ split, though all the Psychologist said was that is cognitive profile wuld account for his behaviour. That he was super clever non-verbally, and low average verbally. The 2e phenomenon is not well known or acknowledged here in the UK. I’ve had to do all the digging myself (hence why I have found your blog!). His school is completley oblivious to the condition, and feel that provided his achievement is where it should be then what’s the concern?! No one will discuss a LD since he’s considered too young to assess. Sigh. So I read everything I can online written by Dr Silverman, and I split my sides reading your truly insightful narratives and I’ve just decided to do this myself. As soon as the husband is 100% behind me I’m taking A out of school and we’ll see where that takes us all. I also have a 2yr old, J, who is so totally the opposite to his big brother A in every way. But oh my life he is bright. Too bright. I was hoping for happy and average 2nd time around but no such luck! So yes, Giftedness 101 would be a valuable asset to me, I’m sure. Keep on blogging; it means a lot to me to read that I’m not alone x

  24. Jodi

    My DS 6 is gifted and I suspect 2E. I am very new at all this and with 4 kids and with what I’m finding out its likely that I have more than 1 gifted child. With what little I have also read about 2E I have a feeling this is me too. That’s the first time I have said that aloud.  So in learning about what make my DS tick I’m also rediscovering a lot about myself. If you got so much out of this book it would be one I would love to have a hard copy of. Thanks again for. If this is a gift, can I send it back. Jodi

  25. Kristi

    I got your book in the mail today. Thank you! I needed the laughs. I read the whole book already. My son is 10 and 2e. He is gifted but also has dyslexia, dysgraphia and ADHD. The therapy, tutors, changing schools, etc is draining. I too feel like I am not doing what I need for my daughter, 7. She is gifted but the tantrums are what I seem to focus on with her. I would love to find a psychologist that specializes in gifted kids for both my kids. That would my Walter Mitty fantasy – someone that could tell me how to get through my day with my under-achieving son and temper-tantrum prone daughter without wanting to bang my head on the nearest wall! I am sure I will read your book many times; I have many books on gifted kids, but most days the laughs will be what make me a better mom.

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