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The Spiritual Life of Children


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Robert Coles is a winner of the National Medal of Freedom.


Pulitzer prize-winning Harvard child psychiatrist Coles, a social scientist and prolific writer of books dealing with children's perceptions of poverty, moral and political stress, and crisis, shares his research regarding children's understanding of and reflections on spiritual matters. Inspired by his psychoanalytic training and a conversation with Anna Freud, Coles interviewed in-depth over 500 Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and agnostic children, ages eight to 12, living in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. What Cole delivers, in between thoughtful but nonjargonistic explanations of children's remarks and art work, are detailed, fascinating conversations between an expert interviewer and children struggling to understand God and the contradictions of their religious teachings. Recommended for larger public and college library collections and church/synagogue libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/90.--Janice Arenofsky, formerly with Arizona State Lib., Phoenix

With his Children of Crisis series, begun nearly 30 years ago, and later studies about children's moral and political lives, Coles, child psychiatrist, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and Harvard professor, has taught a generation of adults how to listen to--and learn from--children. In this final volume of his work with children, Coles again relies on psychoanalytic observation, unintrusive questioning and meetings stretching over months and years, as he interviews, among others, Hopi children in the Southwest, Catholic, Protestant and Jewish children in the Boston area, Pakistani children in London and Christian children in Tennessee about what God means to them and how God fits in their lives. Often adding to their words with drawings (16 are reproduced here), the children, most around the age of 10, respond with fervency and depth that confirm Coles's close, respectful attention. There are no answers on these pages; only the children, vividly, eloquently present; Coles himself, who, declaring his own secular inclinations, fills out their responses, along with his to them; and the conclusion that intense considerations about the purpose of life and the nature of God occupy all of us, at every age--perhaps never so directly than as children. Author tour. (Dec.)

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