An opponent of parental pressure to turn very young children into early readers, dancers, swimmers, etc., Elkind (The Hurried Child) here casts a jaundiced eye on the supposedly growing trend to teach reading and mathematics in kindergarten and even in some nursery schools. Apart from the truly gifted (who will learn on their own if the necessary materials are available), four- and five-year-olds are not developmentally ready to read or cypher, says Elkind. To forfeit play time and ""socializing"" group activities in favor of reading and math workbooks is at best a waste of time and at worst pyschologically or even academically harmful. He cites a number of psychologists (Erickson and Piaget among them), along with a smattering of studies, to bolster his thesis. He attributes Denmark's near 100% literacy rate to its policy of delaying reading until second grade, and blames France's kindergarten reading program for its high rate of students with reading difficulties. Apart from Japan (whose phonetic alphabet, he says, makes for the success of its early reading program), he cites no other countries. Nor does he indicate how far early reading programs have infiltrated US education. A chapter on how to choose an appropriate nursery school or kindergarten (eschew those with workbooks and/or homework) is, however, helpful. An important concept, but one that merits more research, better organization, and less reiteration of peripheral material.