Taking Back Childhood: Helping Your Kids Thrive in a Fast-Paced, Media-Saturated, Violence-Filled World
By Nancy Carlsson-Paige
Hudson Street Press
Hardcover, $23.95. 304 pages.
By Kelley Dawson Salas
"I feel like I'm this tiny island in a huge sea. Wherever (my son) goes, he has access to everything, and I can't control it. He's playing adult video games at other houses. It makes me sad." — parent
"I quit (teaching kindergarten) today. I can't stand to see what's happening to kids. Kindergarten is nothing like it used to be. The blocks, water table, science corner with birds' nests and feathers are all gone — there's no time. It's all learn the alphabet and reading and writing." — teacher
Parents and teachers who want more for kids than videogames, TV violence, and standardized tests will take interest in Nancy Carlsson-Paige's book, Taking Back Childhood: Helping Your Kids Thrive in a Fast-Paced, Media-Saturated, Violence-Filled World. Far from being a depressing book detailing everything wrong about the society in which we raise our children, this book is inspiring and practical. Taking Back Childhood looks at how to help children thrive in spite of it all. Carlsson-Paige shows how the three basic needs of childhood — creative play, security, and positive relationships — are threatened by children's increased exposure to commercialism and violence through TV and other media, by parents' increasingly hectic lives, and by changes in school culture that have replaced quality early childhood education with teaching designed mainly to prepare children for standardized tests.
Although much of this is beyond our immediate control, we can cultivate relationships with children and structure their lives to meet basic childhood needs. Carlsson-Paige's background as an early childhood educator makes it especially useful for both parents and teachers of young children.
One of the book's strengths is how Carlsson-Paige and the adults she interviews tell simple yet insightful stories about interactions with young children to illustrate deep concepts of child development. These stories, some of which I describe below, show concrete techniques that parents and teachers can apply with immediate results.