Book Review: Building Resilience In Children and Teens - Giving Kids Roots and Wings
by Kenneth Ginsburg with Martha Jablow

The Hook

“We rarely view a cute 5-year-old or a texting preteen as the 35-, 40-, and 50-year olds they will become,” wrote the author of Building Resilience in Children and Teens.  “If we are to prepare children to become the healthy, productive, contributing adults that will repair our world and lead us into the future, we must set our vision for the long term,” added Dr. Ginsburg.  “We want them to be able to overcome adversity and view challenges as opportunities for growth and innovation.  We need them to be resilient.” (Ginsburg 2020).

The Author

Kenneth R Ginsburg is a professor of pediatrics in the division of adolescent medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.  He is also the author of Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love With Expectations and Protection With Trust.  Kenneth has specialized in adolescence medicine since 1990.  He describes himself as a qualitative researcher – that is, he learns about children and teens from kids themselves. 


The Book

Dr. Ginsburg skillfully lays out the functionality of the book in the introduction which includes segments entitled, How This Book Stands Out, Using This Book, and lastly, Why Me.  Rounding off the introduction, he urges his readers to read the book with two lenses, one for your own sake and for the lives of the young people but also with a second lens for building your own resiliency.

The author divides the book into nine parts which are comprised into a total of fifty chapters.  Three examples of the nine parts are: Be The Kind of Parent with Long Standing Influence, Resilience and Stress and Coping and chapter titles include, The Power of Loving Relationships, Why Resilience, Getting Out of the Way, Getting a Grip on Stress, and Delaying Gratification.  A total of 393 pages, the book has an Amazon rating of 4.7 with 196 ratings. It can be purchased on for under $15.00.

The cover design consists of two colors, blue and yellow with a back image of a tree.  The blue consists of two shades, dark and light.  The top half of the cover is dark blue while the lower half is light blue. The two varieties of blue gives the cover page a soft appeal.  The yellow lettering of the title contrast nicely over the dark blue.  The back image of the tree represents a family tree.

Building Resilience in Children and Teens – Giving Kids Roots and Wings is a comprehensive book about building resilience in kids.  However, the author goes much deeper than writing about why it’s important and describes how to build resilience backed with easy to understand theory. 

family value

Early in the book, there is a segment called, Lighthouse Parents Know When to Watch and When to Jump In grabbed my attention.  The author writes about how children will need to ask themselves “Who Am I?” and “Will I Fit In?”  Conversely, for parents, the question is ‘When Do I Jump In.’  Dr. Ginsburg does a good job breaking down these two focus questions. Throughout the book, he talks about key ingredients of resilience that he calls the Seven Crucial Cs which include: Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character, Contribution, Coping and Control.  At the end of the book, Dr. Ginsburg states that if he had to summarize the essence of resilience standing on one foot, he would add a new C for caring. 

Dr. Ginsburg ends the book with a section titled, Parting Thoughts.  Here he reinforces that resilience is not invulnerability. He states, “Compassion, generosity of spirit, and empathy are often developed from the lessons learned during life’s harsher moments.”

My ‘Take-A-Way’

Choosing to read about resilience was appealing to me because resiliency is a family value and family values is the main premise of  A personal take-away after reading Dr. Ginsburg’s book is that while building resilience is important, it is also important for care-takers to model resiliency positively. So the next time you hear yourself saying, “It’s not that bad!” to your child, try saying, “This must feel awful to you.  Really awful.  In time, it will hurt less. And you’ll be stronger for the experience.” (Ginsburg 2020).  This is a piece of advice we can follow as we sometimes beat ourselves up for feeling like ‘bad’ parents.

I recommend Building Resilience in Children and Teens – Giving Kids Roots and Wings by Dr. Ginsburg for a thorough understanding of adolescence resiliency with ‘how to’ step that are rooted in qualitative experiences.  For more tips on building resilience, click here.


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