It’s always amazed me not just that the UK is consistently positioned at or near the bottom of lists ranking industrialised or developed nations in terms of child wellbeing, but also that this shameful ‘performance’ rarely seems to merit little more than a sigh and a by-line (see here and here, for example). Surely, this should be just the sort of thing that foments collective anger and social action. Author Jay Griffiths seems to agree, and in ‘Kith: the riddle of the childscape’, she makes an extremely powerful case for a very different social and cultural approach to childhood. By exploring the very nature of childhood, and drawing on her deep ethnographic studies of childhood in other - particularly ‘primitive’ - cultures, she exposes how we deny children the time, space and place to enact their child nature, and that they are now paying the price. For Philip Pullman, Griffiths “has the same visionary understanding of childhood that we find in Blake and Wordsworth, and John Clare would have read her with delight. Her work isn't just good - it's necessary”.

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