AMERICAN CHILDHOODS by Richard Wormser

AMERICAN CHILDHOODS

Age Range: 10 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 The idyllic title is immediately offset by the subtitle- -``Three Centuries of Youth at Risk''--of this book, in which Wormser (Juveniles In Trouble, 1994, etc.) asks, ``Were children happier growing up in the past?'' His answer is both yes and no, as he reports that the ``good old days'' were full of hazards for children of the past that are unthinkable today. Many children died from disease or were brutally exploited in factories before child labor laws were enacted. Crime was probably more rampant in cities, and ethnic and racial prejudice (and discrimination) were openly tolerated. Children who committed crimes were punished severely and even put to death. The message in the book is somewhat confusing: Wormser presents lessons from the past to show how children survived terrible ordeals through their own efforts and temerity, yet also suggests that contemporary youths have inherited overwhelming problems, because ``family life in the present is far worse than it was in the past . . . [and] can undermine the whole society if left uncorrected.'' In this comparison of past and present, readers are left with a ball of complexities that they will be unable to unravel beyond a sad thread of statistics and hardship. (index, not seen, b&w photos, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10+)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-8027-8426-7
Page count: 129pp
Publisher: Walker
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1996




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