This grounded, sensible book offers a ray of light in a dim and frantic world—with the message that before we can teach our youngest children, we must better understand them. In The Importance of Being Little, Christakis explores what it’s like to be a young child in America today, in a world designed by and for adults. With school-testing mandates run amok, playfulness squeezed, and young children increasingly pathologized for old-fashioned behaviors like daydreaming and clumsiness, it’s easy to miss the essential importance of being a young child. She provides meaningful solutions through a forensic analysis of today’s whole system of early learning, from pedagogy and science to policy and politics.
With her strong foundation in the study of child development and early education and her own in-the-trenches classroom experience, Christakis shows how grown-ups can better meet children’s real, but often invisible, needs. Her message is bold, pragmatic, and encouraging: Parents have more power (and more knowledge) than they think they do, and young children are creative enough to get around the anxious meddling to which we subject them, if we can learn new ways to support them—and get out of their way.