—Photo by JellyBean Pictures

With Memorial Day behind us, summer is [unofficially] in full swing. (Woot! Woot!) But before you stock up on sunblock and sand toys, check out these indispensable bits of advice from our talented panel of experts.

The wise and wonderfully calming child development experts at Seedlings Group filled us in on the new crop of parenting-advice books—to round out your summer beach reads.

Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs
, by Ellen Galinsky
MITM summarizes cutting-edge child development research and provides hands-on advice for nurturing important (but often neglected) skills for thinking, learning, communicating, and behaving.

Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
Finally, a book written for the public that summarizes some of the important child development research (from sibling rivalry and sleep, to the inverse power of praise) that often gets buried in academic journals.
Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from 0 to 5, by John Medina
We’re not so crazy about the title, but this book is full of sound advice on how a child’s brain develops and ways parents can optimize development through their responsiveness, the environment, and even their relationships. It’s an easy read, despite being written from a brain science perspective.
Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder, by Mariah Bruhel
Coming in August, this wonderful book—written by a former educator—provides parents with ways to harness their children’s curiosity. Bruhel suggests easy-to-implement, hands-on projects, activities and even playful learning space ideas to support children’s growth as natural scientists, artists, mathematicians, authors, and thinkers.
Tools of the Mind: The Vygotskian Approach to Early Childhood Education
(2nd edition), by Elena Bodrova and Deborah Leong
 The title sounds serious, but the information is easy to grasp. Based on Vygotsky’s theories, Tools of the Mind provides concrete explanations and strategies on how to scaffold young children’s learning and development.  There are separate sections for the developmental accomplishments of infants and toddlers, preschoolers and kindergartners, and primary grade children.
Play = Learning: How Play Motivates and Enhances Children’s Cognitive and Social-Emotional Growth, by Dorothy Singer, Roberta Michnick Glinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek
Adults often find it hard to trust the correlation between play and learning. But this informative book synthesizes a large body of research showing that play nurtures important skills like attention, problem solving, perseverance, social development and self-regulation—then provides concrete ways parents can facilitate learning through play.

—Get more fun tips from the StrollerTraffic experts in our Summer 2011 Survival Guide.