Recently I received the book Their Name is Today by Johann Arnold for review. When I was introduced to the book and read the synopsis, I was quite interested. As I read, I formed a different opinion. Here are my thoughts.
From the book's description:
Despite a perfect storm of hostile forces that threaten to deny children a healthy, happy childhood, courageous parents and teachers can turn the tide. Yes, we can reclaim childhood, says Johann Christoph Arnold, whose books have helped more than a million readers through the challenges of education and family life. In Their Name Is Today, he highlights drastic changes in the way our society treats children. But he also brings together the voices of dedicated parents and educators who are finding creative ways to give children the time and space they need to grow. Cutting through the noise of conflicting opinions, Arnold takes us to the heart of education and parenting by defending every child’s right to the joy and wonder of childhood.
And information about the book's author:
A noted speaker and writer on marriage, parenting, and end-of-life issues, Arnold is a senior pastor of the Bruderhof, a movement of Christian communities. With his wife, Verena, he has counseled thousands of individuals and families over the last forty years, as well as serving as an advisor at several innovative private schools. Arnold’s message has been shaped by encounters with great peacemakers such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Dorothy Day, Cėsar Chavez, and John Paul II. Born in Great Britain in 1940 to German refugees, Arnold spent his boyhood years in South America, where his parents found asylum during the war; he immigrated to the US in 1955. He and his wife have eight children, forty-four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. They live in upstate New York.
I was quite interested after reading this because I have been an educator in private and public schools, and I'm currently home educating my own children. As a teacher, children's volunteer at church, and a mom, I can definitely see the problem described in the book's synopsis. I see that childhood is often lost in the shuffle of busyness and in the things that some young children are exposed to. But as I read the book, I found myself disagreeing with some of the opinions of the author.
The title of the book comes from a quote by Gabriela Mistral, a Nobel Laureate:
“We are guilty of many errors and many faults, but our worst crime is abandoning the children, neglecting the fountain of life. Many of the things we need can wait. The child cannot. Right now is the time his bones are being formed, his blood is being made, and his senses are being developed. To him we cannot answer ‘Tomorrow,’ his name is today.”
The book is based on a previous book by this author- published in 2000. The information has been revised to reflect current trends and information. Throughout the book, Johann Arnold looks at why childhood is important and what things in our culture reflect the devaluation of childhood. Using stories of real families and his own personal experience, he cites problems that prevent children from enjoying and thriving in childhood- unreasonable expectations, ever present screens and media, materialism. And then he gives some suggestions for parents and for educators to bring back childhood.
There were some points in the book that I agreed with.
- Children do suffer from growing up too soon due to unreasonable expectations, exposure to media, materialism and other factors.
- Our society, as a whole, does not value childhood and children.
- As parents we can value our children by the way that we act towards them and by the behaviors that we model.
I was disappointed in some things also.
- After reading that the author was a pastor, I expected a different focus in the book. I don't believe that issues with our children can be addressed in a purely behavioral manner. It isn't enough to tell parents and teachers to change what they do. If our hearts and the hearts of our culture aren't changed, behavioral changes won't mean much. There was nothing here about the need of ourselves and our culture for a Christian worldview and Christlike thinking.
- The author clearly was of a pacifist mindset and in several places indicated that the violence of soldiers in battle was equivalent to senseless violence. I understand that this can be the view of some, but because I don't hold the same view, it was difficult for me to relate to those parts of the book.
- The author is also clearly against corporal punishment, closely associating with cruelty. Again, I understand this is the opinion of some; but it isn't my opinion; and it makes it difficult for me to agree.
Overall, I think there were some good points made by the author, but there were also quite a few things that I didn't agree with. If you are interested in checking it out, you can enter the giveaway below.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own, and I was not compensated in any other way.
**Giveaway: One copy of Their Name is Today by Johann Arnold; ends on Friday, Nov.7, 2014
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