Understanding and Affirming Children

Understanding and Affirming Children

Here are soem books that have helped me understand soem of the more challenging and problematic dimensions of childhood.


Grief in Young Children: Atle Dyregov. (Jessica Kingsley Publishers) 2008, 91pp, pbk, £9.99, ISBN 9781843106500


Grief in Children: Atle Dyregov. (Jessica Kingsley Publishers) 2008, 198pp, pbk., £14.99, ISBN 9781843106128


Listening to Children:  Alison McLeod, (Jessica Kingsley Publishers) 2008, 214pp, pbk., £17.99, ISBN 9781843105497


The Spiritual Dimension of Childhood:  Kate Adam, Brendan Hyde and Richard Woolley, (Jessica Kingsley Publishers) 2008, 156, pbk, £16.99, ISBN 9781843106029


Anger Management Games for Children: Deborah M. Plummer, (Jessica Kingsley Publishers) 2008, £15.99, pbk, ISBN 9781843106289


There has been an increasing focus on children in today’s society and how we might best understand and respond to their needs.  These five books, all from Jessica Kingsley deal with a variety of issues relating to children.


The first two books (Grief in Young Children and Grief in Children) are first rate resources written by a clinical psychologist working in Norway.  The first book challenges a common misconception that pre-school children are not capable of experiencing grief in the same way that older children do.  Dyregov demonstrates with admirable clarity that although young children may not express grief in the same way they do need to be supported through loss. She is a careful and skilled guide through this process.


The book uses variety of experiences which enables the reader to inhabit the particular world of how children react to death and loss.  A range of issues such as how to keep children in touch with their memories, how to answer the questions they ask but above all to do this within the context of a faith based within which their feelings are listened to.


The second book (Grief in Children) is an equally impressive handbook which now finds itself in a second edition.  This edition has been updated and Dyregov’s skill again is splendidly evident in the quality of the text, reflection and the support of the reader in their pastoral responses.  This is model of good writing in the area of pastoral care.  The chapters are short.  The text is clear and avoids jargon.  There are useful guidelines, references and pointers to internet resources.  The book indeed deserves its reputation as a small ideal text book to help teachers, social workers, councillors and parents.  We could well afford to have shorter and more accessible books that bridge the dynamic between theory and practice.


The third book, (Listening to Children) written by a lecturer in social work at the university of Cumbria draws on over twenty years experience of working with children and families as a teacher,  social worker, social work manager, trainer and consultant. Alison McLeod wants to offer a practical guide to what listening to children might mean in practice.


The book is divided into five parts – in part one we are encouraged to think about the voice of the child; in part two communicating with children is introduced and then developed in part three which is entitled ‘Opening up a dialogue’ with a child.  In part four McLeod offers particular examples of interviews and conversations for specific purposes; and part five completes the book with a powerful and persuasive argument to include young people and children in decision making and the informing of individual and societal perspectives.  Again the book is carefully referenced.


This book enabled me to see children in a different way and challenged my perception about how far we involve children at a variety of levels both within the primary school which I am involved in but also in church for the general planning of the life and work a parish Church.  It is an excellent book.



Kate Adam, Brendan Hyde and Richard Woolley deal with the question of the spiritual in relation to our understanding of the nature of children and their development (The Spiritual dimension of Childhood).  I challenge any reader of this volume not to have their horizons expanded by this excellent study.


The book offers a working definition of spirituality and demonstrates what might happen if we listen to the voices of children.  We are enabled to see how children draw on spirituality (as adults do) to address notions of meaning and value.


This book deserves to be both widely read and acted upon.  I hope copies will find their way into the hands of all those working particularly in Church schools. There is knowledge, wisdom and challenge in the text.


There are few of us who find anger easy to manage both in ourselves and others.  The emotional life of children needs particular care and attention.  This practical hand book (Anger Management Games for Children by Deborah M. Plummer) offers adults support to understand manage and reflect in children’s anger.  There is a range of ‘easy-to-learn- team games, designed to foster successful anger management strategies.


This book is a model of good writing: clear and accessible.  We need to attend more carefully in pastoral care to the emotional world of children and Plummer is a skilled guide.





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