The Booklist review summarizes this book better than I can:
Parental obsession with identifying and nurturing the slightest giftedness in children has produced a "prodigy industry" that is robbing children of simple childhood experiences, according to Quart, a former child prodigy who traveled the country to research the frenzied trend to identify and market products, services, and activities for gifted children.
I'm finding it hard to come up with a real opinion of this book. I think, given a narrow focus, the book makes a lot of sense. There are crazy parents out there doing all sorts of silly things to try and give their children an edge, buying all sorts of videotapes and books and toys and going to conferences and forcing their children to take lessons and go to special schools and become little adults instead of getting to enjoy their childhood. I think parents pushing their seven-year-old kids to become novelists and mathematicians and stock traders is pretty sad. I think parents helping their kids cheat on an IQ test so they can get media attention for how smart they are is pretty sad. I think kids growing up feeling pressure to be something they aren't is pretty sad.
But I couldn't help but feel, while reading this book, that the author -- a former "child prodigy" who was pressured by her parents and had an unhappy childhood -- is ignoring the reality that there are some smart kids out there, and there are normal things parents can and probably ought to do to help them achieve, and that there are things good parents can and probably ought to do to encourage kids to learn and achieve. I read the book and felt like it was designed to make parents feel bad if they try to make sure their kids get a good education, if they buy educational toys, if they do anything but *dis*courage their kids to stand out, to be smart, and to achieve something.
I think it's probably the case that a lot of the toys and books marketed to make kids smarter probably don't. But I don't think that's a reason for parents not to try and create a rich environment for their kids, not to read to them, not to take an interest in their education. I think it's probably the case that many parents go too far -- homeschooling and such -- and make their kids' lives pretty anti-social and unhappy. But I imagine most smart kids don't wish they weren't, and it's possible to find a middle ground between being insane about pushing your kids and being insane about denying the reality that some kids are probably smarter than others.
I feel like I'm pretty smart. Maybe it's a delusion. I went to public school, I watched a lot of TV, I played Little League baseball, I didn't have any Baby Genius videotapes or whatever. But my mom and grandma read to me, a lot. I read a lot on my own as a kid. They got me some toys that were supposed to be educational but fun at the same time. They did something to get me into the gifted program in elementary school (I assume my mom had me tested or something like that). I wouldn't want to raise a kid who became a carnival sideshow. But I also wouldn't want to stand in a kid's way of becoming as smart and as educated as they're able to be. Quart seems to wish she was "normal." I don't know if that's everybody's wish.
Worth reading? Sure. But I came away feeling a bit like Quart wanted to see things a certain way and that's all she saw. I don't know if every "smart" kid is being pushed by evil parents, and if being smart is such a terrible thing that we ought to fight against it.