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5 must-read books on "childhood"

Recommended reading lists SAGE Education

“Childhood” is a topic that always inspires discussion and fuels debate. We have selected 5 must-read texts offering varied and multidisciplinary perspectives on childhood, enabling students to deepen their insight and understanding of key issues and theories in this area.

 1. The Child in Society

Book icon Quote from the book:

"The concept of childhood passes unchallenged in everyday speech. Yet there are questions around its definition. Should this be in terms of status, power, age or physical maturity? Should it be defined independently, or in contrast to adulthood? Do we follow tradition and mark adulthood by rites of passage, or rely on legal acts, independent of individual achievment and capability?"

2.  Global Childhoods

Book icon Quote from the book:

"Children have never been excluded from war, whether as active participants or as members of civilian populations overrun during armed conflict. The vicious treatment of infants and small children, emblematic of innocence and helplessness, features strongly in the demonization of various foes and characterizes nearly every phase of colonization as reported in the earliest records, most often in describing the malign tendencies of ‘uncivilized’ first peoples or ‘the enemy’."

3. Childhood in Society for the Early Years

Book icon Quote from the book:

"Every adult was once a child; it is the one defining characteristic each of has in common regardless of the myriad differences that make us unique individuals. This ought to make it a fairly simple matter to understand exactly what childhood is and what the term signifies. However, the more we try to pin down and identify what we mean by childhood; the more slippery a concept it turns out to be."


4. Key Concepts in Childhood Studies

Book icon Quote from the book:

"Being child-friendly is […] not simply about making places safe for children or ensuring that children have specific services. It is about recognising that children’s requirements may be different – or the same – as those of adults and that the best way to assess what these are is to enable children to be involved in their design and implementation."

5. Contemporary Childhood

Book icon Quote from the book:

"If we are to have a better understanding of childhood then we need to ensure that the views of children themselves have a more central place in our consideration of what it means to be a child in the twenty-first century."


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