I always get the sense when I am reading something by Jay Griffiths that what she is saying is very important and needs to be heard. Badly. I had that feeling strongly with her previous book `Wild' and this book `Kith' gives me the same feeling. If you are a parent (as I am), you must put away your parental worries when you read this book (and all the 'well I can't possibly do that!' reactions) because this is not a manual (she is clear about that) and is not about parents and what they do/don't do. It is about the much wider picture of how society in the west has shifted and what affect that is having on childhood, children - and their parents. It is as much about the need to re-evaluate and listen to the voices of the romantic movement once again and the idea that our world has become dominated by left brain thinking - the left brain being the side of the brain that is busy with analysis, detail and organising - to the detriment of the right brain which perceives the wider patterns, the deeper relationships between things and the connections between ourselves and our world. (and if you want corroboration of this see this extraordinary talk by a neuroscientist who had a left brain stroke http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html) Jay Griffiths speaks of the history of the politics of land enclosure, of the separation from the land, the gradual enclosure of childhood in houses and bedrooms and the triumph of consumerism that likes children in their houses so toys and electronics replace rivers, dens, woods, snails, bugs, sticks and dirt. She speaks of a society that encourages us to keep babies distant when they most need closeness and then creates the conditions that means older children are enclosed when they most need to roam, play, imagine, take risks, learn and mature. She clearly has a deep love and respect for and understanding of children and all their ways and the importance of childhood for the health of our society. This is a book for everyone not just parents. For everyone has been a child and we all live in this society and are concerned for its future. And this is a piece of literature as well, carefully researched, carefully crafted, well written. Her arguments draw on literature and research as well as her own (considerable!) experiences in other cultures, her own childhood and those of the many children she knows. I find her writing very unique in that it is deeply passionate and poetic as well as intellectually rigorous. Some people will find it hard to cope with. It will make some people angry I expect. A true voice often does. Read it with an open heart and mind. But above all read it.
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