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The Development of Children’s Thinking

The Development of Children’s Thinking
Its Social and Communicative Foundations

First Edition

December 2017 | 416 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
The Development of Children’s Thinking offers undergraduate and graduate students in psychology and other disciplines an introduction to several core areas of developmental psychology. It examines recent empirical research within the context of longstanding theoretical debates. In particular, it shows how a grasp of classic theories within developmental psychology is vital for a grasp of new areas of research such as cognitive neuroscience that have impacted on our understanding of how children develop.

The focus of this book will be on infancy and childhood, and it looks at:

  • Theories and context of development
  • How developmental psychology attempts to reconcile influences of nature and nurture
  • Communication in infancy as a precursor to later thinking
  • Language development in primates and young children
  • Cognitive and social development, including the child’s understanding of the mind
  • How studies of moral reasoning reflect upon our understanding of development 
Chapter 1: Introduction: What is Human Thinking and How Does it Develop?
Chapter 2: The Role of Biology in Psychological Development
Chapter 3: Constructivist Approaches to Children's Thinking
Chapter 4: Sociocultural Approaches to Children's Thinking
Chapter 5: The Development of Communication and Social Understanding in Infancy
Chapter 6: Theories of Communication and Social Understanding in Infancy
Chapter 7: Animal Communication and Human Language
Chapter 8: Language in Human Communication and Thinking
Chapter 9: How Children Learn the Meaning of Words
Chapter 10: How Children Come to Control Their Behaviour
Chapter 11: Understanding the Social World
Chapter 12: Social Interaction, Language and Social Understanding
Chapter 13: Moral Reasoning and Action
Chapter 14: Recent Issues in Moral Development

With minimal jargon, clear language, and plenty of examples, the authors offer both a tour of social and communicative development, as well as a comprehensive argument regarding how development should be conceptualized. Drawing from relational views of development tracing back from George Herbert Mead, Jean Piaget, and Lev Vygotsky, to more modern thinkers and theories, this book argues convincingly for placing the developing child within a developmental system.

Students and other readers will also relish in the organization of the book, which traces development from the first moments infancy to the social complexities of childhood.

This text does an excellent job uncovering the assumptions that underlie theories in development psychology, such as those regarding knowledge, meaning, language, and morality. This feature is particularly valuable for students as it provides the tools for evaluating future theories in light of their philosophical assumptions, not just by what empirical evidence there happens to be.

Beau Wallbridge
Undergraduate Student - Simon Fraser University

This textbook is one of the very few that makes me want to continue flipping through the pages because of its interesting content and how easy it was to read. The authors did an amazing job synthesizing existing literature and contrasting theories, as well as exerting their positions in these debates while allowing readers to form their own stance regarding the topic at hand. I find it very admirable that they do not try to impose their opinions on you. The witty and light-hearted examples included throughout the text also turned this academic work into such an enjoyable read!

Ariel Cheung
Undergraduate student, Simon Fraser University

In The Development of Children's Thinking, Carpendale, Mueller, and Lewis provide a refreshing, engaging, and much-needed description of child development that underlines eloquently the need to view development holistically and in context.

Professor Michael Lamb, Professor of Psychology
Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge

I like that the textbook begins with a summary chapter and biology chapter, as I think these provided an excellent base to distinguish how the theories of children’s development differ in regards to their worldviews and biological perspectives. Another feature of this textbook which I appreciated was that after describing each theory, it also gave criticisms of it. I think by doing so, I was forced to think deeper about the topics, which again led to me having a concrete understanding of the material.

Overall, this textbook made it very easy for me to comprehend the topics regarding the development of children’s thinking, and allowed me to be successful in my course. I would recommend this book.

Katrina Heinonen
Undergraduate in Linguistics

Carpendale, Lewis and Muller have written a serious, historically-grounded introduction to the deep controversies that lie beneath the busy surface of contemporary research in developmental psychology. This is textbook on thinking that is aimed at thoughtful students.

Professor Paul L. Harris
Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard University

The Development of Children’s Thinking presents an action based, constructivist, systems approach to development — offering an integrated perspective from biology to cognition to sociality to morality.  This book is an essential corrective and alternative to dominant cognitivist and Cartesian theoretical perspectives.

Mark H. Bickhard
Department of Psychology, Lehigh University

When presenting often quite intricate topics, the authors offer cohesively organized and highly attentive to details study material while allowing space for critical thinking and further discussion. As such, presented numerous examples are great helping tools for material comprehension and orientation to a real-life setting.

The text also provides opportunities for a reader to exercise their critical thinking and analytical skills creating a platform for active reading. Such a thought-provoking and inspiring book is a window into the fascinating world of children’s thinking and development that is both exciting and educating.


Olga Predeina
Undergraduate Student

At last! A textbook that gives the social dimension of cognitive development its due

Professor Michael Tomasello
Psychology & Neuroscience, Duke University

 Professors Carpendale, Mueller, and Lewis have written a unique and invaluable textbook. Although honoring the philosophical and scientific history of diverse treatments of cognitive development, they convey the exciting and empirically rich contributions being made by contemporary developmental scientists framing their research through using dynamic, relational models of human development.

Richard M. Lerner, Director of Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development
Tufts University

A splendidly innovative textbook! It presents a fresh and lively view of cognitive development embedded in social interaction. By integrating the classic theories of Piaget and Vygotsky, so often set against each other, the authors show how biological and social factors interact in the development of language, social understanding, and morality. Highly recommended! 

Janet Wilde Astington, Professor Emerita
University of Toronto