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Masaru Ibuka is Honorary Chairman of the Sony Corporation, an engineer with a relatively recent interest in child development, and his humorless exhortations for strengthening the environments of young children are often commendable if not especially original. Most books of this sort are thinly disguised quests for higher IQ scores and other ""improvements"" but Ibuka seems genuinely concerned with fostering a child's potential and encouraging significant skills of judgment and sensitivity rather than hollow signs of let's-do-it-sooner activity. Yet the tenor of his writing is somewhat objectionable, too like a pamphlet selling a ""high-quality product"" with good ""wiring,"" glibly citing one not always apt example to prove a point before gliding on to the next. He acknowledges that an affectionate family and a stimulating but not overstocked household are important in establishing feelings of confidence and the habit of concentration, commends in particular the Suzuki violin methods and foreign language acquisition, and introduces several diverting cases of children who demonstrated exceptional skill at two or three years old. But why use Rilke to show the validity of making few sex distinctions among young children (""The German poet Rilke was brought up like a girl, dressed in girl's clothes, but this does not at all mean that he grew up to be womanish""), or value TV commercials for cultivating memory skills and disregard their overall impact (""the content of the message to that child is not the point""), Ibuka is less unctuous than his American counterparts (Glenn Doman writes an adulatory yet self-serving introduction), but his book is thorny in too many places, especially on the newborn's abilities.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1978
Publisher: Simon & Schuster