Skip to main content

The Child

An Encyclopedic Companion

The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion offers both parents and professionals access to the best scholarship from all areas of child studies in a remarkable one-volume reference.

Bringing together contemporary research on children and childhood from pediatrics, child psychology, childhood studies, education, sociology, history, law, anthropology, and other related areas, The Child contains more than 500 articles—all written by experts in their fields and overseen by a panel of distinguished editors led by anthropologist Richard A. Shweder. Each entry provides a concise and accessible synopsis of the topic at hand. For example, the entry “Adoption” begins with a general definition, followed by a detailed look at adoption in different cultures and at different times, a summary of the associated mental and developmental issues that can arise, and an overview of applicable legal and public policy.

While presenting certain universal facts about children’s development from birth through adolescence, the entries also address the many worlds of childhood both within the United States and around the globe. They consider the ways that in which race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and cultural traditions of child rearing can affect children’s experiences of physical and mental health, education, and family. Alongside the topical entries, The Child includes more than forty “Imagining Each Other” essays, which focus on the particular experiences of children in different cultures. In “Work before Play for Yucatec Maya Children,” for example, readers learn of the work responsibilities of some modern-day Mexican children, while in “A Hindu Brahman Boy Is Born Again,” they witness a coming-of-age ritual in contemporary India.

Compiled by some of the most distinguished child development researchers in the world, The Child will broaden the current scope of knowledge on children and childhood. It is an unparalleled resource for parents, social workers, researchers, educators, and others who work with children.

See a website for the book.

1,144 pages | 12 halftones, 6 line drawings, 7 tables | 7 3/8 x 9 5/8 | © 2009

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Education: Education--General Studies

Psychology: Developmental Psychology

Reference and Bibliography

Sociology: General Sociology


"Although the mind of a child remains an enigma even to those who spend a lifetime studying it, much has been discovered through scientific research and observation. Bringing together the latest findings on children and childhood from pediatrics, psychology, anthropology, and other related fields, The Child comprises over 500 articles on children’s development from birth through adolescence, considering the ways in which race, ethnicity, gender, and cultural traditions affect children’s experiences of physical and mental health. This resource will be of great interest to parents, social workers, researchers, educators, and anyone else who works with children."

Library Journal

“This work covers a broad global spectrum of basic questions about the mental, social, biological, and spiritual development of children from the time of conception to late adolescence. . . . First, the language used in the articles is very readable and extremely approachable, especially for undergraduate students. Second, this work is truly multidisciplinary--including the typical disciplines of psychology, medicine, and education as well as the often-excluded disciplines of literature, religion, folklore, and communications. Third, the work includes a brief listing of legal citations mentioned in the text--a valuable resource for social policy research. . . . This authoritative work makes unique contributions to the field. It would be an excellent selection for undergraduate libraries.”


"The Child truly is an encylopedic companion, like an erudite friend who seems always ready with a fascinating fact or a surprising perspective. It is not a textbook of the sort that functions best as a cure for insomnia; rather, it is the kind of book you might take to bed, then regret that you did as the hour grows later and yet you, feel no desire to close your eyes."

Robert Needlman | Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics

Table of Contents

List of “Imagining Each Other” Essays

About the Editors

List of Contributors

Introduction: An Invitation to the Many Worlds of Childhood

A–Z Entries

Legal Citations



Choice Magazine: CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title Awards

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press