By Dr. Soo Kim Abboud and Jane Kim The Berkley Publishing Group, 2015, ISBN: 0-425-20561-4, 209 pages, $13 paperback Asians and Asian-Americans make up 4 percent of the American population, and 20 percent of Ivy League students. Now, find out how they do it in the book, “Top of the Class.” What are Asian parents doing to start their kids on the road to academic excellence at an early age? And what can you do to help your child ace tests, strive to achieve, and reach educational goals? In this book, two sisters — a doctor and a lawyer whose parents came from Korea to the U.S. with $200 in their pockets — reveal the practices that lead Asian-Americans to academic, professional and personal success. Like most Asian immigrants, Mr. and Mrs. Kim didn’t bring much money with them to America — but they did carry along values and parenting techniques that helped their children achieve. In this book, you will learn about:
- How Asian-American parents instill a love for learning.
- The role of elders and authority figures in the education of young Asian-Americans.
- How family wealth can sometimes hurt a child’s education instead of helping.
- Parental involvement — what kind, and how much, should you have?
- How to guide your child’s personal choices while still encouraging independence and initiative.
This book can show you how to maximize your chances of raising children who are successful at school and in the workplace by adopting the principles of many Asian immigrant parents. Abboud and Kim emphasize that each child is unique, as is each family; however, if some of their secrets make their way into your child’s life, they guarantee your child will be a better student for it. With each chapter, Abboud and Kim reveal their “Secret To Do” list as a summary block at the end of the chapter. The topic and information in each chapter is pretty basic in terms of discussing the parents role in starting their children in the right frame of mind to become high achievers in school and in their personal life. The secrets revealed are in many cases concepts that are already known to most involved parents. The key to making them work for your child is to make a commitment to play an active role in your child’s education, start early in your training and don’t quit. Teaching your child to value academic success over social status or popularity is not an easy chore, which is made even more difficult if the parent doesn’t start early. Abboud and Kim also include a chapter on where Asian parents go wrong. Learning to include the fun element to academic success can be difficult for some parents to understand and include in their training. Men, women and children who love learning will experience the lifetime joy and pride that knowledge can bring. This passion is fostered by making learning fun and rewarding — not by forcing it down the throats of children without much needed periods of rest and relaxation. Abboud and Kim emphasize that children who grow to view learning and education as a chore due to strict or overbearing parents will never continue the joyful quest for higher education and knowledge once they are away from home. Although some engaged parents may view this text as preaching to the choir, it may also serve to energize every parent to begin a plan of action to help their child discover and celebrate their talents and a lifetime of learning enjoyment. — Reviewed by Richard Fischer