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Their Name Is Today: Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World [Kindle Edition]

Johann Christoph Arnold , Mark Shriver
1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

There’s hope for childhood. Despite a perfect storm of hostile forces that are robbing children of a healthy childhood, courageous parents and teachers who know what’s best for children are turning the tide.

Johann Christoph Arnold, whose books on education, parenting, and relationships have helped more than a million readers through life’s challenges, draws on the stories and voices of parents and educators on the ground, and a wealth of personal experience. He surveys the drastic changes in the lives of children, but also the groundswell of grassroots advocacy and action that he believes will lead to the triumph of common sense and time-tested wisdom.

Arnold takes on technology, standardized testing, overstimulation, academic pressure, marketing to children, over-diagnosis and much more, calling on everyone who loves children to combat these threats to childhood and find creative ways to help children flourish. Every parent, teacher, and childcare provider has the power to make a difference, by giving children time to play, access to nature, and personal attention, and most of all, by defending their right to remain children.


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
"Their Name is Today" by Johann Christoph Arnold is a book on parenting which is mostly personal opinion, waffle, rhetoric and a few nicely told stories, alongside some bits of good (but common sense) advise on raising children. But the book is mostly a trick. It purports to be 164 pages long, but it uses spaced out lines and wide margins on every page... in reality it is only, say, 100 pages long. The best bits are where the author reinforces elements of good parents that are common sense. The rest of it is unsubstantiated babbling. Don't buy this book.

Although it has been republished in the USA under this title, the whole book is USA-centric. The title shouldn't be "Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World", it should be: "Reclaiming Childhood in a Failing America". Nearly all the negative comments about the current world apply only to the USA. For example, the prevalence of school massacres and violent children is a problem which the author says is caused by children (and parents) playing too many violent video games. But there is nothing to back this up apart from personal opinion - the author cites none of statistics nor the large number of studies that have been done on this topic. It turns out, that the rest of the developed world, such as the UK, have exactly the same addiction to violent games, but, do not suffer the consequence of violent children. The problem, if it really does exist, seems limited to the USA. The cause of the problem isn't what Arnold says it is. The chances are, given the lack of references, the author simply doesn't know the facts - but is talking as if he does!

The author mistakes having a lifetime of practice with children to mean that all of their opinions about children, parenting and society are therefore correct.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  74 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changed my outlook on children and parenting! 18 Aug. 2014
By Peter Clement - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Having raised six children of my own (with some still a work in progress), I thought I knew a thing or two about children. This book changed all that. The opening quote of the Action, Not Words chapter to which I turned stopped me in my tracks: “Don’t worry that your children never listen to you, worry that they are always watching you” - Robert Fulghum.
In this book, Arnold brings together in a clear, concise fashion all the many stresses on children and parents. Academic pressure, material and commercial stimuli that subtly attack young minds, lack of clear parental guidance. All these are addressed, and each one had me looking at myself. Yes, we need to fear ISIS and Ebola, but closer to home, we have a battle too. Challenging, but full of gentle hope and encouragement, this book gave me hope and joy again. And it makes me love and cherish my own children, and look at all OUR children with new eyes.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book 18 Aug. 2014
By Milton O'Connell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
This book is definitely worth reading. It is hopeful and encouraging. The pages are filled with real life stories that are easy to understand and thought provoking. As a father of four young children I especially appreciated Chapter 7 – Guidance to Grow. It gives practical advice on education in the home and classroom and on the importance of setting boundaries. The final chapter is titled Tomorrow Comes. In this chapter the author reminds parents of young children how important it is to give them the attention that they need. And that one of the best gifts we can give them for the future is to believe in them. All 10 chapters are an inspiration for the future. As the author writes in the preface it is time for a hopeful book about childhood - and this is it. Don’t miss the chance to read this book, you won’t regret it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you love your children, read this book! 9 Oct. 2014
By Mary C. Fratianni - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
After reading the first few chapters of this book, one might think that it is aimed at the public school parent but on a more in-depth look one will see that it applies to all parents regardless of the educational placement of their children.

As I read through the last three chapters of this book it became very apparent that this book appears to be a final desperate plea from the author to all parents. The author does not rain down fire and brimstone on the reader but implores them with sincere urgency to wake up and take action before it is too late. He spends a good amount of time discussing how computers, tablets, video games, TV, movies, and smart phones, part of our everyday life now, present real and present dangers when used in the developmental years of a child (birth through elementary school). He also spends a good amount of time discussing the dangers of Early Learning Centers and how the ever increasing pressures of academic performance at younger and younger ages is destroying the developmental years of the child. The author ties all of these forces together and presents the destructive outcomes as they have emerged over the past few decades.

The author walks parents through the following chapters: The World Needs Children, Play Is a Child’s Work, Great Expectations, Screening Out, Material Child, Actions, Not Words, Guidance to grow, In Praise of Difficult Children, Discovering Reverence, and Tomorrow Comes.

Parents should read this book with urgency and with open minds, ready to take action within their own families. If we lose the children, the future is lost.

I received this book from Plough publishing to review for free.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guidance and Inspiration for Today's Families. 6 Oct. 2014
By TheophilusFarrell4 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This past Sunday, we had a conversation with a neighbor.
It was a conversation about what a strange, violent world this is. We talked about how so many young people are committing crimes- acting with utter disregard for the sacredness of life. We talked about how so many parents are giving up on their kids, and then kids become the delinquents they were expected to be.

It was, obviously, a sad conversation. And I didn't know what to say. I came home, shaking my head, and returned to the book I was reading.
The book was "Their Name is Today" by Johann Christoph Arnold. It is exactly the book to inform that conversation.

This is a book about bequeathing a better world to our children, and reaching their hearts and touching their souls. It's a book about "winning children for the good" and giving them the best opportunities to grow up confident and content.

The author comes from an interesting background. He is a chaplain for several law enforcement agencies, so his eyes are wide open to the havoc that crime wreaks on victims and responding officers. He is also an advocate for a more just, peaceful and merciful world, so he believes that a better way exists if we seek it out.

The question of children and how to raise them falls right in between these issues. Children are the victims of our broken world, and yet if they aren't guided and nurtured, they will become the next generation of victimizers.
Do we shut our eyes to the problems and pretend that America's children are just fine, or do we let the obvious problems shape our dialogue and become negative and prescriptive?

Mr. Arnold has found the good middle path to walk.

For example, he has an entire chapter called "Screening Out," in which he addresses specific dangers of of the internet age, such as violent video games. He also addresses the general effect of electronic entertainment in our homes and computer-based education in out classrooms. He never retreats to talk of "the good old days," and his concern isn't motivated by dislike of progress or technology.
Rather, he quotes educators and child specialists who question whether tethering our schools to screens is a good thing for children's literacy, social skills, and even motor control.

Some of my other favorite chapters include Discovering Reverence, In Praise of Difficult Children, and Material Child.

In Discovering Reverence, he says "Our response upon encountering a child must be nothing less than reverence. Perhaps because the word sounds so old-fashioned, its true meaning has been blurred. Reverence is more than just love. It includes an appreciation for the qualities children possess (and which we ourselves have lost), a readiness to rediscover their value, and the humility to learn from them."
My local library has a sign on the wall. It states that children will forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Imagine how children would feel if they were respected, right from the start. Not as little princes whose every whim is honored, but as little human beings who have dignity and purpose.

In "In Praise of Difficult Children," he brings a ray of hope to any parent or teacher who does not want to give up on any child, but can't seem to make any headway with a certain child either. I love this radical idea... be grateful for the "difficult" boy or girl, they are teaching you a new way to love them.

And in "Material Child," he deals with consumerism. He doesn't cast blame on the children or the parents who are caught in the trap of more-is-better, he points to gratitude and family togetherness as the source of true satisfaction.

I'm grateful to Plough Publishing and Propellor Consulting LLC for providing me with a copy.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, but not dogmatic 4 Oct. 2014
By Michael Monaco - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I decided to read this book based on a recommendation I saw on a blog, and full disclosure: I was given a free review copy.

I had never heard of the author (Johann Cristoph Arnold), and wasn't sure what to make of the publisher, which apparently connected to a sort of German Christian communist group. (Communist in the sense of living communally; I don't know that they have anything to do with Marxism!) So I was a little leery about whether this book was in some way meant to recruit people to the Bruderhof society the author apparently belongs to, but I'm pleased to report that not only does he never even mention his organization, there is no real evangelism or propaganda of any sort going on. (The subtitle about a "hostile" world made me worry there would be some Christian persecution complex involved, but happily that does not seem to be the case.) The author is making a long, earnest plea for others to take a more thoughtful approach to childrearing.

I had no idea how big a pussy I am before reading this, by the way -- probably every chapter had several passages that made me stop reading and attend to the, um dust that was bothering my eyes. The simple but moving anecdotes, the quotations from other writers and studies, and the author's sincere reverence for children all contribute to making this an extremely powerful book.

To some extent, he is preaching to converted to this reader: he argues for more free play, less screen time, no corporeal punishment, firm boundary-setting, and spending time with kids. But he will probably challenge any parent with some of his views, and I did find the heavy reliance on religion for some of his ideas to be off-putting. I am not as convinced that he is about some of the topics he raises. But ultimately he is not really arguing for a specific program, and gives relatively few practical instructions. Rather he wants to infect you with the same reverence for children and childhood that he feels.

I was not surprised to learn that the author is descended from a fairly prestigious educator -- his grandfather was Friedrich Fröbel, the inventor of Kindergarten. I don't think he'd identify with Steiner's Waldorf education philosophy, but he is certainly in line with many of the basic tenets -- encouraging free play in nature, learning by doing, imposing responsibilities on children, reduced emphasis on what is called academic "success", and most of all the concern for giving the child the kind of support that will create self-confidence, empathy and concern for others, and intellectual curiosity. Really his premises appear to be mostly different from Steiner's, and yet he arrives at many of the same conclusions. (This is comforting for me personally, because I find myself disagreeing with what I would call the metaphysical teachings of both Waldorf and Christianity, yet I find many of the conclusions that Steiner and Arnold make to be correct. I think this probably means that the metaphysics are safely disconnected from the ethics, to get a little technical.)

Anyway it would be wrong to say Arnold actually ARGUES at all. He is not especially sophisticated philosophically -- and that is a good thing. He does appeal to logic and evidence, but it is obvious that he is really speaking directly from his heart, and is intelligent enough to find ways to support his perspective with his head as well. I'm OK with that, because his heart is coming from an *incredibly* loving place.

This book might not make you blow up your TV, or quit your job to spend as much time as you can at home. But this book can meet you wherever you are, and take you as far as you are willing into Arnold's perspective. It will make you remember to cherish every minute of parenthood.
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