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Achtung Baby    by Sara Zaske order for
Achtung Baby
by Sara Zaske
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2018 (2018)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

It's been many years since I was a child or was raising my own children. Now I watch my children raise their children and ponder the differences in their lives from what I remember was normal all those years ago. In Achtung Baby, Sara Zaske tells us about her experiences in Germany during the 6 years she lived there with her husband and children, when she experienced a totally different way of raising and educating children to what she was used to before leaving the U.S. for Berlin. Although things are much different for American children now than they were in the past, it's useful to examine what works in other countries to be sure that we're doing the best we can.

When Sara and her husband Zac moved to Berlin they had a toddler daughter, and Sara had a big adjustment to make. Before moving, her daughter spent part of every day in day care while Sara worked. At first she didn't know how to find care for her little girl in Germany, and spending all of her time with a toddler was less than satisfying for a woman who also didn't have adult friends in her new community. She didn't speak the language, which made it even more difficult for her to adjust. Little by little she found the care she needed, began to learn German, and found new friends, but she was also pregnant with her second child. Before she could spend much time investigating the German education system, she had to find a midwife and give birth again.

Sara really threw herself into her time in Germany. Her children went to German preschool and school, and she tried hard to allow them the freedom that other Berlin parents gave their children. She was able to find an international school, which helped the older child with her language problems as well as introducing Sara to mothers or fathers from all over the world who were, for the most part, married to Germans.

The book is written in an engaging style that reads almost like fiction, as if Sara and her family were the characters in a story. She does interject plenty of information from her extensive research, however, which also provides comparisons with the way American children are being raised and educated. For instance, she reiterates a concern about insufficient playtime in elementary schools in the U.S. and a belief that teachers who teach by lecturing young children cause some of the behavior problems among their students, who get bored. I think that this book will provide interesting and worthwhile reading to parents and educators alike. As a grandparent, I certainly enjoyed reading it.

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