Reviews of Escape From Childhood
John Holt wrote two essays based on this book. You can read them for free:
"John Holt’s Escape from Childhood: The Needs and Rights of Children, is as fresh and thought-provoking today as it was when it was first published 39 years ago, and its message is even more essential now than it was then. In the past four decades we have seen progress in the rights of all people—except children. For children, we have moved backwards. Holt’s proposals in this book sound absurd to the modern ear on first hearing them; but Holt, in his careful, clear, reasoned prose, shows to any thoughtful reader why they are not absurd and how children and all of society would benefit if children had the same basic rights that we take for granted for adults. We, in modern-day America, underestimate children’s abilities to make reasonable judgments far more than have any other people at any other place or time in history. In the name of protecting children we hurt them, sometimes viciously. As Holt shows brilliantly, children need the same rights to advance their own interests and protect themselves as we grant to adults."
—Dr. Peter Gray, Author of Free to Learn : Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life (Basic Books, 2013)
"First written in 1974, this is Holt's radical carving out of the legal, political and moral rights of children . . . his attempt to find right ground on which to banish, or dramatically reframe, our notions of childhood. Childhood, says Holt, is a developmental construction which places children in a position of subjectivity in ways designed to serve adults, not children. Childhood as a walled garden—safe, protected and innocent—is a fiction in Holt's view, essentially an early 20th century construction that we must release children from. In this heartfelt, passionate, very-much-of-its-era book, Holt explores thinking that is anathema to many: that children should have the legal right to vote, to live independently, to control their own learning, and declare themselves emancipated from parents at very young ages. With his usual profound interest in observing children in the world, Holt presents a series of arguments about the nature of childhood that any serious educator or parent should thoughtfully explore."
—Kirsten Olson, author of Wounded By School (Teacher's College Press, 2009) and Schools As Colonizers (Verlag, 2010).
“For the sake of our young people, I humbly recommend that if you have read it, it's time to re-read it; if you have not, it's now time. The urgency is that we desperately need a more gentle, loving, and friendly world for our young people and there is no better inspiration than Holt's Escape From Childhood to spur us to action.”
—Carlo Ricci, Professor of Education and author of The Willed Curriculum, Unschooling, and Self-Direction