Small Animals

Parenthood in the Age of Fear
Narrated by: Kim Brooks
Length: 8 hrs and 14 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (231 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This program includes a bonus interview with the author. 

One morning, Kim Brooks made a split-second decision to leave her four-year old son in the car while she ran into a store. What happened would consume the next several years of her life and spur her to investigate the broader role America’s culture of fear plays in parenthood. In Small Animals, Brooks asks: Of all the emotions inherent in parenting, is there any more universal or profound than fear? Why have our notions of what it means to be a good parent changed so radically? In what ways do these changes impact the lives of parents, children, and the structure of society at large? And what, in the end, does the rise of fearful parenting tell us about ourselves?

Fueled by urgency and the emotional intensity of Brooks’s own story, Small Animals is a riveting examination of the ways our culture of competitive, anxious, and judgmental parenting has profoundly altered the experiences of parents and children. In her signature style - by turns funny, penetrating, and always illuminating - which has dazzled millions of fans and been called "striking" by the New York Times Book Review and "beautiful" by the National Book Critics Circle, Brooks offers a provocative, compelling portrait of parenthood in America and calls us to examine what we most value in our relationships with our children and one another.    

©2018 Kim Brooks (P)2018 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"Part memoir, part history, part documentary, part impassioned manifesto...it might be the most important book about being a parent that you will ever read." (Emily Rapp Black, New York Times best-selling author of The Still Point of the Turning World)

"Kim Brooks's moving narration is the perfect vehicle for the drama surrounding her arrest for a momentary lapse in judgement...Brooks's lyrical writing and largely dispassionate narration will draw parents into this larger dynamic and restore their freedom to do what they believe is best as parents." (AudioFile Magazine)

"Small Animals interrogates how we weigh risk as parents, how we judge one another's parenting and what the costs might be - not just to parents, but to children, too - of a culture of constant surveillance." (New York Times Book Review)

Editorial Review

A soothing balm for overanxious, overpoliced parents

It’s one of those "what would you do" scenarios: you’re outside a big-box store, and you pass a car with a preschooler inside, his parent or guardian nowhere to be seen. The PSAs are impossible to miss: Never leave your kid alone in a car, not even for a second. But what if it’s a cool, spring day, and you’re literally going to be back in five minutes? These are the considerations Kim Brooks made as she chose to leave her four-year-old in a family minivan during a quick shopping trip. She would later be arrested for criminally negligent parenting. How did we end up being so cripplingly worried about young humans? In my lifetime alone, we’ve gone from newly born me traveling home in my mother’s lap, a cigarette dangling from her lips, to being held virtual hostages at the birthing center until you can present proof of a suitable carseat. Parenthood has become a competitive sport—and the safest, most anxious one wins. This book is essential listening for anyone who’s had the gnawing feeling our overprotective stance on parenting has gone too far. —Courtney R., Audible Editor

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Essential reading

I wish this was the only parenting book I’d ever read. Kim Brooks has put into words things I’ve felt but haven’t been able to properly express: The way we do it just isn’t the way it’s supposed to be done. I loved this book!

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a must-read for parents and those who know them

small animals is an important inspection of the causes and effects of modern day fear-based child rearing.

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Way to dramatic

This author is way to anxious and dramatic. Parenthood isn’t that catastrophic. I feel for her peril but she has a proclivity for drama so it isn’t surprising in some ways.

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a must read for American parents

thought provoking. makes me want to read more on the topic. makes me want to be a better parent

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The only parenting book you need to read!

Really enjoyed this book. I thought it was very well-researched and put together, informative without being boring.

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This book is everything!

Kim Brooks speaks to my heart as a mother! Her words were true, relatable and encouraging in a world where many moms feel like their every move is scrutinized by anyone and everyone. This honest examination of the state of modern parenting, and even more so, modern motherhood, should be a warning to us to reconsider the direction in which we’re going. Thank you, Kim, for having the guts to share your story!

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This explains a lot

Kids need space to be self reliant. Well written; well read. Thought provoking. Recommend for book groups and parent groups.

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Fascinating!! Every parent should listen!!

so incredibly interesting!! A very compelling argument for allowing kids some Independence. Will definitely recommend to friends and family!!

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Didn’t want it to end

This book is incredible for any parent at any stage of their parenthood. Kim feels like your inner thoughts intertwined with talking to your best friend. Such an honest, funny, raw & amazing book, I couldn’t put it down. READ IT!

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Want to know why so many parents are wacko?

As kids, we ran around. Jumped off things. Wandered through the woods. Climbed trees. Played ball in the street. All sorts of things where we could have been hurt. And we all survived and look back with some degree of joy and nostalgia on our childhoods.

Yet, as parents ourselves, so many of us are complete wackos. Hovering over our kids. Cramming activities into their days like we’re running their campaigns for office. Denying them so many of the simple things we enjoyed. I wanted to know why.

In this book, Kim Brooks does a remarkable job explaining why so many 21st Century parents have lost their minds. I’m so sorry she had to survive such an awful ordeal to take up the task but I’m glad she did.