I love Brain, Child magazine. I have a big-time crush on them; one day, I aspire to write for their website or magazine. Their essays always succeed in either making me think, laugh, or cry, or any combination thereof. So I knew that their new book, This is Childhood, would be excellent, and I couldn’t wait to read it.
It didn’t disappoint. Filled with 10 essays from some of my absolute favorite bloggers, including HerStories Project contributors Nina Badzin, Gailt Breen, Lindsey Mead, and Allison Slater Tate, it is a unique look at the first 10 years of childhood.
Each chapter is a short essay, followed by a focused discussion question on the writer’s recollection of a specific age of childhood. At the end of each chapter is a section where readers are encouraged to write their own reflections about each age, with prompts about favorite memories, music your child listened to, or their first day of kindergarten. It makes for the perfect combination of reading and journaling- two of my favorite pastimes for certain. I read the book over Mother’s Day weekend, easily devouring several chapters at a time, but appreciating the fact that I could put it down and return to it whenever time permitted without losing my momentum.
Savoring each story from ages one to ten reminded me of the things I loved best about each age I have experienced as a mother so far– up to nearly eight!– and it made me feel excited about what was still to come. I loved looking for pieces of my own daughters in the descriptions of each age, with all its idiosyncrasies and endearing characteristics.
One of the things I loved the most about This is Childhood was that it brought to mind exactly why I choose to write about my children. It reminded me of the innate value, the beauty, of capturing moments that seem like snapshots of a fleeting stage or a uniquely individual person, yet somehow reflect something more universal and lasting. Reading the details of each writer’s memories felt like witnessing a sacred glimpse into their families, and yet it evoked something more familiar as well. Each story bubbled over with tender interactions and quirks reminiscent of daily life with my own two young daughters, reminding me that for all the differences that exist between children, there are so many universal experiences in parenting.
The essays compelled me not to dismiss my desire to capture these years of my daughters’ lives– as much as anyone can actually capture anything about the rapidly moving river of childhood– because it does matter. One day, the details with which I chronicled my toddler’s delicious mispronunciations or the heartbreak of my young entrepreneur’s failed projects will mean more to me than anything. I will be grateful not to have brushed past those experiences– both the breathtaking and the horrifying– to have borne witness to the complicated evolution of my family.
Those who know me well are familiar with my fondness for nostalgia; it is perhaps my greatest pleasure in life to narrate and memorialize our tiny, yet impossibly significant moments. This is Childhood is the perfect example of what can come out of those efforts to attempt to put into words all that comprises those amazing first ten years of childhood.
I am excited to be giving away THREE copies of this fantastic book! I urge you to go ahead and buy a copy for yourself here, though- this book would make the perfect gift for a friend, should you happen to be one of our lucky winners!
I too loved this book and it also made me glad that I have decided to write about selected events and times in my kids lives. Especially since after 15 years and three kids my brain has officially retired!
Thanks so much for reviewing the book! How fun that you have three to giveaway!
Oh, thank you so much for writing about the book, which was a labor of complete love. And yes, I agree entirely that there’s huge value in writing things down … that’s why I started, and now I’m grateful to have years and years of memories captured. xox
Thank you so much for your amazing review! xo
You are very welcome. Loved your chapter, Tracy! 🙂
I love this book! Greta review Stephanie. Believe it or not, I’m giving away a copy today, too!
Looks like a really great book – and with contributors like Galit and the others, you can’t go wrong!
Love the ladies who contributed to this, and I love your thoughts on using words to preserve moments in time so that we can revisit them later.
I know what my next read is going to be! 😀
I would love to win a copy of this book, as I too, have a crush on Brain, Child Magazine. I got my sister, who had her first baby this fall a subscription this year when I got my own- I think it’s a great gift for a new (or any) mom.
I loved this sentence: “Reading the details of each writer’s memories felt like witnessing a sacred glimpse into their families, and yet it evoked something more familiar as well. ” That perfectly captures the way I felt about the book. 🙂 Writing for Brain, Child is one of my dreams too. I hope we meet on their pages some day 🙂
Ok, so I actually want to win. Which is well. I hope I say this the right way, because I’m so so much of a believer in your sentence “there are so many universal experiences in parenting,” and I very much hope to convey that message in my own writing, but fear that I fail at it, because honestly, I hate the f#cking “your child will be doing these things at this age” stuff. I can’t stand it, because mine, well, doesn’t, mostly. Except for that he DOES. He’s just as cool as any 4yo out there – full of imagination and fun and annoying “Let’s play a game!” groans… but. The buts. I unsubscribed from every single milestone email I used to be so hungry for, once. I didn’t want to hear “your child is 22 months now and congrats on three word sentences!” because well.
I guess I’m not sure what I’m saying except for the fact that I love you and that you make me want to read this book that I’d have thrown in the trash had a relative given it to me a year ago. Does that make any sense at all?
I’ve been thinking about your comment all week! I actually dreamed that I replied to it- is that weird? 😉 So here’s what I’ve come up with- I’ve decided that the “evaluation” of each age as expressed by the writers of each individual chapter has little to do with “what your kid/all kids/kids SHOULD be doing at age 3, 4, 5, etc.” It’s about what *their* kid was doing- what likes, behaviors, quirks characterized each age of *their* children’s life. And some of it is relatable because of things that kids generally do at those ages, but more of it was relatable to me because I identified with the funny, sweet, precious things that made their kids unique, but somehow also felt unique to MY kid. Less about developmental goals and imperatives, more about noticing and savoring the fleeting stages that ALL of our kids go through, regardless of their abilities and developmental needs. The funny way they pronounce something that changes in a few weeks; their favorite toy that they stopped needing all of a sudden; their favorite song and the way they danced to it when they were six. That stuff. F*ck the “should be doing” garbage. xoxo
See? More of the why I love you stuff in your reply. That you even dreamed about it is beyond awesome (although I’m not sure why…maybe I’m just happy that I was in your dreams? too creepy? anywhoooo). That makes sense, actually, that each experience was relatable in the way that all of them are… because regardless of (un)met milestones, each kid does have adorable “at this age” behavior and quirks and favorites and forgottens. Thanks for the reminder of that.
Love the review! Can’t wait to read! Erin
Thank you for this wonderful review and your kind words about Brain, Child!
Thank you so much for stopping by and reading it, Marcelle! I loved the book, obviously! 🙂
Thank you for taking the time to reflect on the book and consider it within the framework of your own writing and living.
I love the realm of stories that we are all creating as we travel through motherhood.
I do too, Amanda, and it was my pleasure! Such a wonderful book, and so very well done. 🙂
Great review! Sounds like a lovely book, and one I should read! Thanks for the review.
Thank you so much for this great review, Stephanie!
And, yes, the thought of our kids reading the moments we capture warms my heart over so many times! They’ll be the first generation to have such a unique look and insight into their childhoods! So, we write on, sister! 🙂
Thank you, again, so very much!
I cannot wait to read this book! I have a fondness for nostalgia with my children too. I just have a horrible memory so it doesn’t always work out as well as I hope it to. I love that image you created for all of your daughter’s ages. I might have to do that with my four year old.
I love this from you, “…it is perhaps my greatest pleasure in life to narrate and memorialize our tiny, yet impossibly significant moments.” This book is such a great way to kick start the process of writing those moments down. Great review of a wonderful book, Stephanie!
Aw, thanks Julie!
“it is perhaps my greatest pleasure in life to narrate and memorialize our tiny, yet impossibly significant moments.” You beautifully summed up my thoughts, exactly! Thank you so much for your thoughtful review and I am so glad you liked it!
Oh, thank YOU for such a lovely comment. You are very welcome- I loved the book!