12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Useful as an introduction,
This review is from: The Invention of Childhood (Hardcover)
This text certainly provides a useful, introductory, outline of some of the threads in the emergence of the notion of childhood in British culture over the centuries, as well as highlighting the various constructions the concept has undergone to its present-day incarnation. The author's style is highly readable, punctuated with material from a variety of historical sources.
The accompanying short play by Morpurgo, which serves as a summary of some of the themes of the main work, is of interest for its subservience to, and propagation of, the myth of 'progress' that is fed to the young.
The most notable aspect of 'The Invention of Childhood' is perhaps that, as description (rather than critique), its tendency is to ignore the various actors/groups that have played a part in suborning the concept of 'childhood' for their own purposes, and the intentional or unwitting effect that this has had for the concept in contemporary culture.
Hence, while a useful introduction for the general public (accustomed to viewing 'childhood' as some sort of natural, inevitable, status), readers are encouraged to take a more critical look at its political deployment, sharply detailed in such works as Phillipe Aries' classic Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life: A Social History of Family Life and Judith Levine's Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex; and should certainly read Tony Duvert's Good Sex Illustrated (Foreign Agents) (the latter title not being descriptive of the book's contents, but rather a parody/critique of the disinformation systematically targeted at young people).