All Reviews are of Books Authored by CEASE Members
Beyond Remote-Controlled Childhood: Teaching Young Children in the Media Age.
(September 2013) by Diane E. Levin. NAEYC www.dianelevin.com
Beyond Remote-Controlled Childhood takes us in the early childhood profession into the strange new territory of young children’s lives in the North American culture of the 21st Century, guiding us through the complex and pervasive cultural and educational minefields of technology that we all live through each day. Diane’s first book in this series, Remote Control Childhood? Combating the Hazards of Media Culture came out in 1998, just before the World Wide Web exploded the use of computers throughout the world, and well before portable video games, DVD players, and cellular telephones got so popular. The intervening years have seen television retain its hold on our time and attention, while computers, video game consoles, cell phones, smart phones and tablets now make screen technology ever-present in our lives.
Diane, in her new book, leads us and the children and families we care for beyond the lures and addictions that the ever-present screens present us, to reclaim our real relationships, our time, our play, our self-confidence, and our discernment of what’s still valuable in the world of screens and ringtones. It’s a major feat that Diane accomplishes in a very user-friendly way, with an abundance of stories, examples, references and common-sense ideas and suggestions for action based on extensive research and experience.
The book starts with an analysis of the current technological and cultural challenges to children’s wholesome growth, then goes into step-by-step ideas for teachers and parents to implement with their children, helping the children to connect with the real world, take charge of their screen time and toy use, play constructively, and move beyond the scripts imposed by modern electronics. When the teachers, the children, their families and their communities can work together on these issues, everyone wins. With this book Levin helps all of us to understand and cope with what’s here now and what’s likely to come next.
Taking Back Childhood: Helping your kids thrive in a fast-paced, media-saturated, violence-filled world.
(April 2008) by Nancy Carlsson-Paige. Hudson Street Press. www.nancycarlssonpaige.org
Nancy’s book addresses my deepest concerns for my grandchildren and their mom and dad who face unprecedented challenges as parents. Nancy, a CEASE member and Lesley professor of early childhood education and conflict resolution, offers a practical and inspiring guide for parents on how to provide a safe, caring and nonviolent childhood within the context of this complex and challenging, and sometimes harmful world of ours. Nancy’s book not only acknowledges the many social forces and unhealthy trends in our modern world, she also provides insights into what is critical to healthy growth and development. What makes this book valuable to me is that Nancy not only writes with the authority of her extensive research and understanding of child development theory, but she also writes from her lived experience as a mother and grandmother long devoted to compassionate parenting. Nancy advises parents on how to resist marketing directed toward children that undermines their parental values; how to challenge the violence and racial and ethnic stereotyping depicted in the myriad forms of media; and how to be cognizant of and resistant to the current trend to over structure children’s time. Most importantly, in Taking Back Childhood, Nancy provides encouragement and practical guidelines on how to afford children the essentials for healthy growth and development –reclaim and promote creative play, foster a sense of security and competence in today’s often frightening world, and form loving and meaningful relationships with both adults and other children. Chapter 11, “Small Acts, Big Changes” offers a wide range of ways that we can join together to advocate for change on a larger scale than our own families. I encourage readers to join others on children’s behalf and, as the author states, “. . . bring into being a society and world that truly does nurture and nourish the young.”
Both books can be purchased at www.amazon.com
So Sexy So Soon: The new sexualized childhood and what parents can do to protect their kids
(August 2008) by Diane E. Levin and Jean Kilbourne. Ballantine Books. www.dianelevin.com
CEASE member and Wheelock professor of education, Diane Levin and Jean Kilbourne, an authority on advertising, have written an invaluable and practical guide for parents who are overwhelmed by the impact of the media on children and teens. The authors explain that today’s children spend more time involved with electronic media than doing anything else but sleeping. Disturbingly, sexual content is infused throughout much of the advertising and media they see (including TV programs, videos and computer games and the Internet). The authors write that the focus of advertising serves the interests of manufacturers and marketers, but is very harmful to children. The authors explain that products marketed to girls encourage them to focus on their bodies (being skinny) and appearances (being “sexy” or “hot”), and that provocative clothing is commonly marketed to very young girls. Boys are taught to be tough, strong and ready to fight, while girls are urged to focus on makeup and accessories.
The authors emphasize that children today are learning very narrow definitions of gender and sexuality that focuses primarily on appearances. We are reminded that young children should have positive, age-appropriate experiences that lay the foundation for healthy sexual relationships in the future rather than learn to treat themselves and others as objects. Diane and Jean offer parents essential, practical and age-appropriate strategies to counter this media assault. The authors state “We must work at all levels to create a society that supports parents’ efforts to raise healthy children, instead of one that makes their job harder at every turn.” I especially appreciate how the authors provided knowledge, skills and most importantly, confidence for parents to enable them to discuss this sensitive topic openly and effectively and to take action to create a safe and healthy environment for their children.
Diane Levin’s “Teaching Young Children in Violent Times: