Book Reviews


The reviews posted on this page are the thoughts and opinions of Keith Zafren, founder of The Great Dads Project. They are posted for your assistance in determining which books might be of value to you. You can agree with, disagree with, or not even care about my opinions. They’re only opinions. I do not make any money by marketing these books. These are merely reviews for your benefit, amusement, and evaluation. Some of the author bios are from, the author’s website, from the book itself, or from another source noted.

You will see an image of the book cover, the name of the book and it’s author(s), the year of publication, and a short description of the book on this page. If you see a book that interests you, click on it and you will be taken to my review of the book in a new window.

Check back often for more book reviews added regularly.


Graham Scharf The Apprenticeship of Being Human on The Great Dads project with Keith ZafrenThe Apprenticeship of Being Human: Why Early Childhood Parenting Matters to Everyone
Graham Scharf (2012)

Graham Scharf’s insight into early childhood parenting is deeply personal and multidimensional. Scharf argues, with mounds of medical evidence to support him, that it is in these early stages of child development that the brain of a child is most malleable and developing at rate unmatched in later years. In the early, highly formative years, parents have profound influence to shape their child’s brain, literally, for good or for waste. This is when a child learns what it means to be a human being—by observing his or her parents in real life, particularly by experiencing their interactions together.


1-2-3 Magic on The Great Dads Project with Keith Zafren1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12
Thomas W. Phelan PhD (updated edition 2010)

Thomas Phelan provides a straight-forward, simple, and easy-to-implement plan for helping parents calmly respond to their children’s bad behaviors, tantrums, and disobedience without engaging emotionally in anger or frustration (at least that’s the noble goal). At the onset of a problem, the parent holds up one finger and calmly says, “One.” If the child persists, the parent says, hold up two fingers and says, “Two.” If the child still does not cease and desist, the parent holds up three fingers, says, “Three,” and scoops up the child (if he or she is still young and small enough) and sets the child in a timeout, preferably in his or her room. If the child comes out, the parent calmly but firmly places the child back in timeout, shutting the door if need be.


Parent Effectiveness Training on The Great Dads Project with Keith Zafren

Parent Effectiveness Training
Dr. Thomas Gordon (2000)

Dr. Thomas Gordon’s, Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) class is the pioneering program that has helped millions of parents around the world. Classes are offered by certified P.E.T. Instructors throughout the country and in many different countries. Whether you’re the parent of a toddler or a teenager, you know that parenting can be challenging–even overwhelming at times. Unfortunately, children don’t come with an instruction manual. And, being a parent doesn’t always mean that you automatically or instinctively know what to do. Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) offers proven communication skills that really work. When parents use these skills, they are amazed with the dramatic improvement both in their families and in all their relationships.


How to talk so kids will listen on The Great Dads Project with Keith ZafrenHow to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish (longtime bestseller updated in 2012)

Although the chosen demographic is parents and how they listen to and speak to their children, the communication skills taught in this book are universal. They can (and should be) applied in all relationships, even in business. One Amazon review said it succinctly while summarizing some of the key points the book teaches: “treat people with respect, do not deny their emotions, state the facts (only) and shut up and listen. This book also talks about giving praise and recognition, which makes it another reason to use it in real life, inside the family AND outside in the ‘real’ world.” The logical, reflective, respectful communication skills taught in this book really work.


510VhTcNRuL._AA160_Teaching Kids to Be Good People: Progressive Parenting for the 21st Century
By Annie Fox, M.Ed. (2012)

Author Annie Fox has compiled a delightful, practical, and useful anthology of advice to parents of teens. The book is essentially a compilation of blog posts on various topics every parent of a teenager will face or deal with at one time or another.



Dwyane Wade on The Great Dads Project with Keith ZafrenA Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketball
Dwyane Wade (2013)

I recently completed reading Wade’s fantastic and compelling book. I hope you choose to get the book and read it from cover to cover as I did. You will not be disappointed. Read below and decide for yourself. This book tells three distinct and moving stories woven together to reveal the life, character, and passion of one remarkable man—Dwyane Wade—childhood survivor, basketball superstar, and devoted father.



Finding our fathers on The Great Dads Project with Keith ZafrenFinding Our Fathers:
How a Man’s Life is Shaped by His Relationship with His Father
Samuel Osherson, Ph.D. (1986, 2001)

Osherson himself explains his book in his preface: “Self-understanding is an essential first step for men today. If a man is to be a good father to his son, or a good husband to his wife, he needs to know what he got, or wanted and didn’t get, from his own father; how he was both strengthened and wounded by that relationship; how it has influenced his own fathering style and his own identity as a man.” This book is a classic in this genre and one I recommend. Take a look at my review and decide for yourself.


darth vader on The Great Dads Project with Keith Zafren

Star Wars: Darth Vader and Son
Jeffrey Brown (2012)

The book is a simple and humorous look at the often unexpected joys, spontaneous moments of laughter, teaching moments, and some of the frustrations of being a dad to a young son, all played out between Darth Vader and his son Luke Skywalker. In this short, hardcover collection of original cartoons and captions, Vader is a present, day-to-day father raising Luke while doing what we dads do: training Luke to hit a baseball (with a light saber), telling him not to make bubbles when he sips through a straw (at the intergalactic bar), or pouring his son a bowl of cereal for breakfast (using the force to do so). You get the idea.



the unexpected legacy of divorce on The Great Dads Project with Keith ZafrenThe Unexpected Legacy of Divorce:
The 25 Year Landmark Study

Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis, and Sandra Blakeslee. (2000)

This book is a long, powerful, and insightful study and report of findings mostly told masterfully through stories of children from divorced families. The results of the longitudinal study are mind-boggling as to the complexities and difficulties with which so many men, women, and children live.



the truth about children and divorce on The Great Dads Project with Keith ZafrenThe Truth About Children and Divorce:
Dealing with the Emotions so You and Your Children can Thrive

By Robert Emery, PhD (2004)


This useful book is based on 25 years of groundbreaking psychological research. Dr. Emery presents a lucid, practical, and compelling case for all parents going through divorce to put their children’s needs first so that children can be resilient, heal, and eventually thrive themselves.




Martin Seligman Learned Optimism on The Great Dads Project with Keith ZafrenLearned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life

By Dr. Martin Seligman (1990, 1998, 2006)

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was both intellectually stimulating and personally inspiring. Seligman’s research, stories, personal writing style, and hopeful conclusions intrigued me and spurred me to consider deeply whether my way of explaining what happens in my life is a half-empty (pessimistic) or half-full (optimistic) perspective. The studies he cites and explains made this a very important matter to discern.

Scientific research proves that people who intentionally think about what they have to be grateful for on a regular basis and who maintain a positive, optimistic perspective about life in general strengthen their immune systems, decrease illness, earn more money, have longer lasting and more meaningful relationships, and are all around happier and more satisfied with their lives. This includes parenting and enjoying relationships with our children of all ages.




c.s. lewis chronicles of Narnia on The Great Dads Project with Keith ZafrenThe Chronicles of Narnia

By C.S. Lewis (originally published in the 1950’s)

What the Series is About: describes these books perfectly: “The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven fantasy novels for children and is considered a classic of children’s literature. Written between 1949 and 1954 and illustrated by Pauline Baynes, the series is Lewis’s most popular work, having sold over 100 million copies in 41 languages. It has been adapted several times, complete or in part, for radio, television, stage and cinema.


Recent Posts

When Our Kids Amaze us

Have you had one of those moments when one of your kids amazed you with how grown up they seem, how articulate they are, or how mature they’ve become, as if you missed a few years of their development somehow? And there they are now, standing before you as a wonderful young man or woman. Where did the time go?

Who is this lovely creature?

I had that experience last May when my two oldest boys, JD and Cal, now sixteen and almost fifteen, went to their spring formal dressed in sport coats and ties. I looked at these two handsome young men in wonder. And truly they looked like men, and they carried themselves that way. I shook my head, and I felt so proud of them.


I had that wonder-filled experience again a few weeks ago when a friend of mine, Dr. Lori, suggested she interview my youngest son, Kai, about an experience he and I had with one of my painting customers (I’m bi-vocational). She heard Kai tell the story earlier and thought it would be great for other dads to hear. They had so much fun planning it together, and the idea quickly grew to include several other subjects, all related to The Great Dads Project.

I shot the video, and stood there with my mouth hanging open most of the time. I could hardly believe this was my little twelve-year-old son still in braces. His thoughts, ideas, suggestions, insights, humor, and his way with words floored me. Seriously, this kid could be an actor. He was so comfortable on camera, and carried himself with such poise, grace, and presence. I’m not kidding. I know, I’m his dad, I’m bound to think he’s great. But seriously, check this out for yourself, and see if you don’t think he’s as great as I do. Enjoy.


If you like this, leave a comment below, and share
a story about a time one of your kids amazed you.


To read more from Keith, take a look at his book:

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