Description: This book describes issues that affect African American children, including historical, cultural, and social factors. The authors discuss both the difficulties faced by children of color and how they overcome them.
Purpose: The authors had four goals: "First, we wanted to introduce students to issues that impact the lives of African American children that typically are not discussed in child development textbooks or are relegated to a paragraph in most developmental textbooks. Second, we wanted to present a balanced discussion of the challenges that impact the lives of African American children as well as emphasize their strengths and their resiliency. Third, we wanted to familiarize students with a sampling of research that moves beyond a deficit view of the development of African American children and takes into account the historical, cultural, and social factors that influence developmental outcomes for African American children. Fourth and perhaps most importantly, we wanted to stimulate critical thinking in social science students about future directions for research on African American children and their families."
Audience: Their audience includes "social science students (developmental psychology, social work, sociology, Black World Studies) and other related disciplines (family sciences, education, and nursing) to African American child development." Dr. Harris, associate professor of psychology at Miami University of Ohio, has researched the environmental contributions to preschool and school age cognitive development for the last 17 years. Dr. Graham, associate professor of psychology at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), is interested in the social-cognitive aspects of children's relationships.
Features: The book covers issues such as demographics, health issues, mental health issues and racial identity, and moral development. Each chapter begins with an overview, continues with a personal story or a personal viewpoint about the topic, and concludes with a discussion of current perspectives on African American child development and additional readings. Figures and tables are wonderfully instructive and many chapters include boxes that highlight critical information.
Assessment: This excellent book presents important topics, whetting the appetite to learn more. The authors address issues that readers may not want to hear but need to acknowledge in order to understand and intervene in an intelligent manner. This material will challenge beliefs and, hopefully, motivate readers to do something, both in terms of intervention and future research The book should be required reading for individuals working with African American children and their families (and students who will be).