STARRED REVIEW
January 2018

How to parent a prodigy

By Ann Hulbert
Review by

Maybe you never expected to read biographical analyses of Shirley Temple and Bill Gates in the same book, but the more you think about it, the more it makes sense. It certainly did to Ann Hulbert, author of Off the Charts.

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Maybe you never expected to read biographical analyses of Shirley Temple and Bill Gates in the same book, but the more you think about it, the more it makes sense. It certainly did to Ann Hulbert, author of Off the Charts.

Hulbert, who previously covered a century of child-rearing advice in Raising America, turns her sights to the intriguing phenomenon of early genius. In Off the Charts, she peers into the formative years of 15 individuals, combining lively biographical sketches with serious analysis of the factors that contributed to their ascendancy in the public eye. Most of these prodigies we know, while some—such as precocious novelist Barbara Newhall Follett—have been virtually lost to history, but all offer important lessons.

Not surprisingly, those lessons tend to circle back to the prodigies’ parents—who run the gamut from free-range advocate to prison warden without the charm—and in many ways the book is as much about the parents as it is about their progenies. Wisely, Hulbert downplays judging the children’s genius and lets the facts—and often the prodigies—speak for themselves.

Rest assured, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to rearing a genius. And even the most seemingly well-adjusted prodigies don’t exactly breeze through adolescence. The “hidden lessons” are there in plain sight, but many of them are impossible to avoid.

 

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our Q&A with Ann Hulbert about Off the Charts.

This article was originally published in the January 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Off the Charts

Off the Charts

By Ann Hulbert
Knopf
ISBN 9781101947296

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