Reviewed by Poppy Johnson

How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm by Mei-Ling Hopgood is highly interesting and for all of the right reasons. All cultures cherish the birth of babies and the nurturing years that the mothers in every culture spend raising their children. But some modern cultures differ when it comes to how children are attended to, encouraged, cared for and pushed to become adults. This book highlights different stories that are all true and very compelling true accounts of the way different groups raise their children around the world.

In a chapter regarding how Asian children are pushed to excel in school, Hopgood discusses the fact that Asian families are traditionally very involved in the academic studies of their children. The family gains status in the community based directly on the academic success of the children. The children have no choice but to excel in all areas or risk bringing irreparable shame on the family. In this way, Asian children are not automatically academically prone to excel in school, but are traditionally pushed quite hard by their parents to do so.

In another chapter, Hopgood describes how Polynesian parents allow other family members and friends to supervise the toddlers in the family. The youngest children in the community are able to become integrated into the community on their own, usually without the hovering of their parents over them. It is not unusual to find young pre-schoolers riding around on the back of a neighbor’s moped or at the market with someone in the community who took temporary care of the child for the day. The parents allow community members to watch their children and do not worry about them since the safety of the child continues to be a high priority (no matter who is watching the child at the time).

How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm highlights the lives of children from various cultures in relation to how the parents and community look after them. The cultures, values and traditions of many different regions are explained as they relate to childrearing, and all stories are very interesting. I’d recommend this book to anyone but especially to mothers, since it provides such different and fascinating perspectives to childbearing.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Algonquin Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.