Book Reviews




Parents write –

"I started reading it with much interest. After an hour, I realized I was filled with elation and hope. It made my day. The feeling has not worn off. It gave me the confidence and articulateness to challenge my kids on some chronic behaviors and amazingly, they have responded."

"I've read a lot of books about sleep and food and first aid, but I never know where to look when I have a question about my children's emotional development. In the heat of the parenting moment it's so hard to know what matters and what doesn't and what to insist on or let go. The ideas in this book really help me figure out what lesson I'm trying to teach and the kind of grown-up I'm trying to help my children become."

"Emotional Muscle opened up enjoyment of my job as a father. I now understand how much I have to offer my kids."

Grandparents write --

"I can't express how grateful I am for your putting my parenting values into words. I will give this profound and easy-to-read book to all my friends who are grandparents."

"I've read many parenting books over the years, but none that is so clear, precise and friendly. I'm grateful that Emotional Muscle gives me a common language to use with my daughter-in-law. That will reduce a lot of tension."

Educators write –

"The Novicks have captured the essence of early childhood in language both parents and teachers can appreciate. More than just another exposition of the stages of child development, Emotional Muscle brings to life the challenges children face at various ages through vivid examples drawn from real experiences. The authors' expertise with living, breathing children comes through on every page."

Diane Manning, Ph.D.,
Former Chair of the Department of Education,
Tulane University

"Emotional Muscle by Kerry Kelly Novick and Jack Novick is a must read for anyone committed to understanding how values are conveyed and how the development of character can be supported. Written in an easy to read, concrete, and informative way this book will surprise you with how it takes a very complex topic and makes it accessible and useful. At first I read it with the hopes of improving my work with young children and their families. I soon came to realize that it had a big impact on me personally and in my own interactions with my immediate family members. It is a book I will re-read and reference again and again."

Michelle Graves,
Preschool Education Director, High Scope teacher trainer,
Community Educator, Author of Educational Workbooks and parent.

"Emotional Muscle is a book that is needed, relevant and (should be) required reading for all parents and educators. The Novicks offer an inspiring blend of information with rich, real stories. They create not only a clear guide, but also a wealth of practical action steps to support adults in growing emotionally strong children in these challenging times."

Kathleen Kryza,
International Educational Consultant and Author,
University of Michigan School of Education.

Development Experts write –

"In this book Kerry and Jack Novick distill their years of experience with babies, young children, and parents. Walking their readers through the various developmental challenges that children and parents naturally face during the first five years, they do for these early years what Erik Erikson did on the broader canvas of the human life cycle in his classic Childhood and Society.

"The Novicks translate decades of clinical and developmental research into plain English, illustrating their points with examples that are easily accessible to any interested reader. Theirs is a practical psychoanalysis that is completely at home on the changing table, in the high chair, and on the playground.

"Their book will be a valuable resource to generations of parents, daycare workers, preschool teachers, and others caring for young children. What's more, the stories they tell make it clear how, as grownups help children to develop their emotional resources, everyone ends up feeling happier and stronger, better prepared for life's future challenges."

Paul M. Brinich, Ph.D, Clinical Professor,
Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
Psychoanalytic Education Center of the Carolinas

"We all want to know how to help children we care about to become kind, resilient, productive, and creative. Emotional Muscle is a rare gem that helps us, in practical ways, to accomplish this complex task. This book is a greatly needed contribution to the field of early childhood mental health, parenting, early childhood education.

"Based on their extensive life experience, their wisdom, and deep knowledge of what it is like to be a child or to parent children during their first formative five years, the Novicks, who are among the most innovative and dynamic contemporary child psychoanalysts, have provided us with a clear and engaging manual full of everyday examples of how to facilitate the emotional growth of children.

"Reading this book is not only very enjoyable, it is simply a must for everyone who works or lives with children, or for everyone who wants to understand themselves better."

Era Loewenstein,
Ph.D Director of Preschool Consultation Program;
Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychoanalyst

"It is a refreshing and welcome change when parents and professionals alike can be encouraged to notice strengths and to think in terms of building "emotional muscle" in both children and their parents. The Novicks and their work embody the idea that no one does anything reliably or well unless it brings with it a sense of pleasure.

"All who read this book will come away with an increased sense of appreciation for the behavior of young children as the vehicle through which they communicate. Recognition and acknowledgement of children's thoughts and feelings leads to celebration of understanding and feeling understood."

Thomas Barrett, Ph.D,
Child and Adolescent Psychoanalyst and Psychologist;
Department Chair, Clinical Psy.D Program, Chicago School of Professional Psychology

“What a delicious book! It’s clear, practical and so sensitive to both parents and children.”

Social worker

“Your writing and presentation are exciting in that you achieve clarity without sacrificing depth or complexity – a rare feat and talent!”

Agency Executive Director,

Find our more about the book here