The Parent Library is in the San Geronimo School Library, to the left as you enter the room. Listed below are the titles of the books and other media we have, with a short description of a number of them.

Mary Irish, who maintains our school library, has put library cards in all of our books, so that you may borrow them. If you would like to check one out, please fill out the card and leave it on Mary’s desk. There is no firm return date, but please be considerate of others. You also are welcome to sit in the Library and browse when you are at school, whether Mary is there or not.

We welcome additions from your personal collections that you think would help other parents, but please make sure they get added to our data base by leaving them in the office with Beth for Amy to catalog before they go on the shelves. There are many more books that have come out in the last few years that would be lovely to add. If you would like to purchase one, contact Amy or one of the Open teachers for ideas!


Creative and Mental Growth, Viktor Lowenfeld & W. Lambert Brittain A classic text on the growth and development of the creative process in the child.

Children at Play. Preparation for Life, Heidi Britz-Crecelius The author emphasizes and encourages the different qualities of play that extend through the phases of childhood. She speaks from a Waldorf background and perspective.

Images of the Young Child, David Elkind essays on development and education

Infant and Child in the Culture of Today. Arnold Gesell, Louise Bates Ames, and Frances Ilg provides a detailed understanding of the physical and mental states of children during the first five years of life.

The Magical Child, Joseph Chilton Pierce A wonderful description of children’s enormous creative and intuitive powers-How they get lost and how you can preserve and strengthen them.

The Magic Years, Selma Freiberg The author looks at the challenges a child faces at each stage of development in the early years (ages 1-6).She addresses self-control, fantasy, talking, fears, sex education, and other subjects in the practical terms of daily living.

The Mechanisms Of Perception, Jean Piaget

Meeting at the Crossroads Women’s Psychology and Girls’ Development provides the means of meeting girls at the critical crossroads of adolescence

On Aggression, Konrad Lorenz

The Piaget Primer, Ed Labiniwitcz

The Psychology of Children’s Art, Rhoda Kellogg (2) A beautifully illustrated compilation of children’s art by the author over 20 years, and her experiences of working creatively with children.

Yardsticks Chip Wood For each age, this book include a narrative description of developmental traits, charts summarizing physical, social, language, and cognitive growth patterns, suggestions for reading, writing, mathematics, and thematic units, and favorite books

Your Five-Year-Old: Sunny and Serene

Your Six-Year-Old: Loving and Defiant

Your Seven Year Old: Life in a Minor Key

Your Eight Year Old: Lively and Outgoing

Your Nine Year Old: Thoughtful and Mysterious

Your 10-14 Year Old , Ames & Haber

This series explores the child’s attitudes, capabilities, emotional expression, expectations in school, relationships to siblings, friends, parents. Very informative and easy to read. They reflect the ideas of Piaget, as expressed by the Gesell Institute of Human Development. They are NOT a “how to” book for parents — but rather provide a perspective of life from the child’s various ages. Although some of the passages in the books are dated, the series is still one of the most helpful explanations of child development around. Many parents through the years have breathed a sigh of relief after reading these books. Take the two books on either side of a child’s age to get a fuller understanding.


Bradshaw on the Family: A New Way of Creating Solid Self-Esteem John Bradshaw based on the public television series of the same name, “Bradshaw On: The Family” is his seminal work on the dynamics of families.

Children – The Challenge, RudolfDreikurs This has been around for a while, but is still relevant. Dreikurs suggests that parents be neither permissive nor punitive, but need to learn how to become a match for their children and capable of guiding them.

Children of 2010, Washington and Andrews based on dialogues with national leaders in 1998 on the trends, problems and opportunities

Contemporary Moral Issues, Harry K Girvetz

Escape From Childhood,John Holt focuses on Holt’s thoughts and beliefs about the rights of children in society in general rather than schooling specifically.

The Family Crucible:The Intense Experience of Family Therapy, A. Napier & Whitaker A remarkable account and description of the interrelationships and patterns within the entire family and generations that unfold around one member’s “problem.”

Food For Healthy Kids, Lendon Smith

For Your Own Good, the Hidden Cruelty in Childrearing and the Roots of Violence, Alice Miller A powerful look at the consequences of some of our culturally inherited child rearing practices.

Growing Up Absurd, Paul Goodman’s influential 1960 report on “the problems of youth in the Organized Society.” On the whole the book remains remarkably prescient on the issues facing young people today.

Holding Time-Marsha G Welch MD Written by a child psychiatrist, the book is subtitled, “How to Eliminate Conflict, Temper Tantrums, and Sibling Rivalry and Raise Happy, Loving, Successful Children.” The approach revolves around holding the child. But there is much more to it than mere holding.

How Much Is Enough?: Everything You Need to Know to Steer Clear of Overindulgence and Raise Likeable, Responsible and Respectful Children

Clarke, Dawson and Bredehoft Go ahead, these authors say, love them dearly but while you are at it, give them chores, rules, structure and a united front

How to Talk so Kids Will Listen ~ Listen so Kids Will Talk, Adele Faber Mazlish An excellent book on communication skills, helping children deal with their feelings, alternatives to punishment, autonomy, the problems with praise, etc. with hundreds of examples of helpful dialogues.

Kids Can Cooperate , Elizabeth Crary a practical guide to teaching problem solving

The Lice Buster Book, Copeland

Listening, A Toolfor Powerful Parenting (Healing Children’s Fears, etc.) Patty Wipfler of the Parents Leadership Institute These pamphlets offer compassionate practical tools for listening to our children’s grief, fears & angers, suggests stress release for parents, and that parents become “listening partners” with other parents.

Listen Up, Barbara Findler voices from the next feminist generation

The Moral Intelligence of Children Robert Colesexplores the question of how to raise a child whose moral intelligence and strong values will be the basis for a balanced and happy life.

Positive Discipline, Jane Nelson A practical guide for how to set limits and discipline children in positive and constructive ways.

Punished by Rewards: the trouble with gold stars, incentive plans, A’s, Praise, and Othe Bribes, Alfie Kohnshows that while incentives seem to work in the short run, it is a strategy that ultimately fails and even does lasting harm.

Playful Parenting, Lawrence J Cohen Written with love and humor, brimming with good advice and revealing anecdotes, and grounded in the latest research, this book will make you laugh even as it makes you wise in the ways of being an effective, enthusiastic parent.

Raising Confident Girls Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer hands-on, practical advice available for nurturing girls in a changing and challenging social environment.

School Smart, Bonnie Williamson preparing your child for school, creating an atmosphere at home where your child can learn

Start Something: you can make a difference, Earl Woods, Tiger Woods’ father talks about raising confident children.

Who’s Bringing Them Up?How to Break the TV Habit, Martin Large This book explores the relationship between television and child development. It speaks about the effects of TV as a medium more than on program content, and cites the many studies which look at the connection between heavy viewing and loss of creativity and imagination.

Who’s Calling the Shots? How to Respond Effectively to Children’s Fascination with War Play and War Toys, Carlsson-Paige and Levin War toys marketed on TV today are fundamentally different from the war toys we may remember from our childhoods and are having increasingly negative effects on our children’s attitudes and play.There are a wealth of ideas and resources here for helping children reclaim control over their own play, avoid rigid gender and racial stereotypes, combat consumerism, and develop skills for building a less violent future.

Your Child’s Self-Esteem, Dorothy Briggs This warm and wise book provides a framework for developing a sense of self-worth in your child.


Adventuring With Books, a booklist for pre-k to grade 6edited by Kathryn Mitchell Pierce

Beyond Discipline Alfie Kohn questions the assumption that problems in the classroom are always the fault of students who don’t do what they’re told; instead, it may be necessary to reconsider what it is that they’ve been told to do–or to learn.

Changing Kindergartens: four success stories, Goffin and Stegelin the complicated process of moving from a comfortable, traditional perspective on working with 5-year-old children to an approach that demands reflection, complex implementation, and political negotiation.

The Children of the Dream, Bruno Betleheim Communal child rearing in Isreal, and what it may have to say for American education

The Closing of the American Mind, Bloom A best-selling and scholarly description of the loss of the best of classical education and its social consequences.

The Differentiated Classroom, Carol Tomlinson how teachers can divide their time, resources, and efforts to effectively instruct so many students of various backgrounds, readiness and skill levels, and interests.

Families at School, Thomas, Fazio, Stiefelmeyer handbooks for teachers and parents–directed towards working with disadvantaged children and their parents, but useful for anyone

2Gerbils 20 Goldfish 200 Games and 2000 Books and How I Taught Them To Read, Steven Daniels has a class of kids who can’t read and who experience poverty of all sorts every day. He fills his classroom with books, games, animals, and high expectations.

The Hurried Child, David Elkind Explores the problems and damage caused by the many ways children today are pushed to grow up too fast, before they are developmentally ready.

Inside Summerhill, Joshua Popenoe his four-year experience at the Summerhill in the 1960s.

Learning Together: Children and Adults in a School Community

B Rogoff a compilation by parents and teachers from the Salt Lake City Open Classroom. A great read with lots of relevance to our school. ( 2 copies)

Left Handed Teaching lessons in affective education, Gloria Castillo dealing with the interests, concerns, fears, anxieties, joys and other emotions the child brings to the learning situation

Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk, David Elkind looks at academics and athletics, developmentally appropriate parenting practices and education

More Than the ABCs the early stages of reading and writing, Judith Schickedanz

No Contest: The Case Against Competition Alfie Kohn In closely reasoned argument he shows that, while competition is deeply ingrained, it is also inherently destructive, especially where self-esteem is contingent on winning at the expense of others.

The Open Classroom, A Practical Guide to a New Way of Teaching, H. Kohl

The Open Classroom Reader, Charles Silberman an anthology of theoretical and practical writings

Open Learning in Early Childhood, Barbara Day focus on practical aspects of creating an open learning environment

Our Children Are Dying, Nat Hentoff the story of Dr. Elliott Shapiro, tireless and controversial former principal of P.S. 119 in central Harlem, and his crusade in education.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire calls traditional pedagogy the “banking model” because it treats the student as an empty vessel to be filled with knowledge, like a piggy bank. However, he argues for pedagogy to treat the learner as a co-creator of knowledge.

Posing Open Ended Questions in the primary classroom, Christina Myren

Ready To Learn, Ernest Boyer for the Carnegie Foundation puts forward the issues affecting children’s ability to learn and posits corrective measures necessary to raise the standards of education in the USA. The issues examined and identified are broad, from pre-natal care and home life to pre-school education and nourishment.

Smart Schools, David Perkins what strategies to use to increase real learning

The Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and “Tougher Standards” Alfie Kohn Drawing on a remarkable body of research, Kohn helps parents and other ex-students understand the need to move beyond a “bunch o’ facts” model of teaching. With stories from real classrooms, he shows how this can be done. Along the way, Kohn offers surprising truths about the Whole Language versus phonics controversy, why a straight-A report card may not be good news, and how we can best gauge the progress of schools and students.

Smart schools better thinking and learning for every child. David Perkins shows teachers and parents what strategies they can use with children to increase real understanding.

Starting Small: teaching tolerance in preschool and the early grades, teaching tolerance project

Summerhill: a radical approach to child rearing, AS Neill ( 2 copies)

The Sun’s Not Broken A Cloud’s Just In the Way: on child centered teaching, Sydney Clemens

The Way it Spozed To Be, James Herndon Yes, the book is about a troubled inner city school, yes the author is a first-year teacher who bucks the system, yes he was naive and idealistic, but what sets this book apart is the author’s simple humanity and honesty.

Young Lives At Stake: the education of adolescents, Charity James


Best Wishes Doc: A dynamic approach to learning disabilities, Martin Cohen

Just Another Kid, Torey Hayden teaching a challenging class for emotionally disturbed children

The Myth of the Hyperactive Child: And Other Means of Child Control Peter Schrag and Diane Divosky prevailing ideology, which defines ‘normalcy’ in terms of “conformity,” has created a new statistical population of ‘disturbed’ children identified by such labels as hyperkinetic.

PS your not listening, Eleanor Craig a year spent teaching five special needs children

Raising Your Spirited Child, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka often called “difficult” or “strong-willed” the spirited child possesses traits we value in adults yet find challenging in children.

Schooling Without Labels, Douglas Biklen In discussing issues such as normalization, acceptance, complete schooling, circles of friends, and community integration, parents describe the challenge and necessity of their children’s “leading regular lives.”

Smart Kids with School Problems: things to know and ways to help, Priscilla Vail explains how a child can demonstrate both brilliance and learning difficulties.

Square Pegs in Round Holes, Harold Levy the learning disabled child in the classroom and at home

The Out of Sync Child Carol Stock Kranowitz identifies Sensory Processing Disorder, in which the central nervous system misinterprets messages from the senses. Gabi Friedrich recommends this book!

The Survival Guide for Kids with LD (Learning Differences), Gary Fisher ~ R. Cummings


365 Days of Creative Play, Ellison and Gray

A Call To Character, Greer and Kohl A well thought through family treasury of stories poems proverbs and fables to guide the development of values

Everybody Wins, Jeffrey Sobel: 393 non-competitive games for young children.

Fun Time Family Time, Susan Perry

Meditating with Children, Deborah Rozman

Please Touch, Susan Strlker Explains all the crucial creative stages between 1-5 years and provides a wealth of activities to stimulate preschoolers natural curiosity and creativity.

Sharing Nature With Children, J. Bharat Cornell Games which create situation or an experience in which nature is the teacher, putting the emphasis on developing the heart and intuitive qualities.


Open Classroom Folder of Articles/ Parent Education Notes

Includes articles from community members about our program published in the Ross Valley Reporter and the Pacific Sun in 1991 & 1992, “A Morning in the Life of a Parent Aide” written by a parent in 1992, “Open Classroom Reconsidered” published in Education Digest in 1990, excerpts from The Open Classroom Reader, and Read it Right, Spell It Wrong from the SF Chronicle 1992

Equity education information binder

Tourette Syndrome—much more than tics Moving beyond misconceptions to a diagnosis

Emotional Intelligence Workshop: materials from Dr. Pat Kunstenaar


Parent ed

August To June (DVD) filmed in 2005/6 in our program, following Amy Valens’ 3-4 class

To Make A Difference, An Open Classroom in the 80’s (2 VHS, 1 DVD) an earlier film by Tom Valens about our program

Assessment: What does it mean to be educated? Lagunitas School District Forum, March 2007

New Parent Orientation #1 1991 (audio)

New Parent Orientation #21991 (audio)

The Son-Rise Phenomenon

Starting Small: teaching children tolerance

Marin Students Speak of Stress

Classroom moments and special events, mainly caught by teachers, parents and students (VHS)

  • Steelhead in the Classroom with the Berensmeirs, Amy’s class 2003
  • French Exchange 2002
  • Angel Island 2001 (2)
  • Circus 01
  • Day of the Dead 2000 (2)
  • Salmon tapes classroom tour 1998
  • Boat and art show 1998
  • French Exchange 1997
  • Rebecca’s Group 96-97
  • salmon 1997
  • Fort Ross 96
  • Pond Tour 1996
  • Poetry Reading 1995 ( 2)
  • Fantastic Mr Fox 94
  • Fort Ross “93
  • Poetry Reading 1993
  • Stories from the Valley: interviews with Valley old timers 1991
  • John’s group 1990 fads ( 2)
  • John’s class drama scripts 1990
  • Famous people 1989,
  • Open classroom band, graduation 1987


  • Puppet Play
  • John’s classroom newscast,
  • African snakes, black cowboys and more
  • John colonial day
  • Japan Study
  • Hippo poem Sail car
  • Ryan Talk: Science and Serendipity
  • Junkyard wars
  • Hooverville
  • Nutville
  • Sandy’s Picnic