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!