Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Rituals and Patterns in Children's Lives

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Rituals and Patterns in Children's Lives

Article excerpt

Jackson, K, M. (Ed.). RITUALS AND PATTERNS IN CHILDREN'S LIVES. The Univensity of Wisconsin Press, 2006, 276 pages. $45.00.

Kathy Merlock Jackson, editor of Rituals and Patterns in Children's Lives, introduces this volume by stating that it addresses the need to better understand childhood and the traditions associated with it. She then presents a collection of essays theoretically focused on the question "What is the function of rituals and patterns in the lives of American children?"

The book is structured around seven topical areas, family, religion, education, play, marriage and mourning, literature, and electronic media, presenting two complementary essays on each. The essays cover a vast range of rituals such as language use in immigrant families, indepths description of Hindu rites of passage, function and memories of Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and also historical reviews of sewing circles and girls' samplers during colonial times, back to school illustrations from popular magazines, doll play and ethnicity in the late 1800's and early 1900's, newsboy funerals between 1850-1910, and kids growing up watching American Westerns. Many of the essays present either repetitive or inconsistent definitions of childhood rituals and routines making it difficult to get a firm grasp on what is and what is not one. Some of the essays get lost in so much detail about their subject matter that the reader is in jeopardy of missing how it relates back to the central question of how rituals and routine impact the lives of American children. For example, Ray Merlock's essay entitled "Growing Up with Westerns" includes several pages detailing the broadcasts of B-Westerns on television including how many episodes were shown, the date the show debuted and ended, what network aired the show, etc.

Methodologically, the information included in the essays was collected and analyzed through memoirs, illustration and document reviews, literary analyses, participant observation, and interviews. However, the methods used are either not explained at all or only outlined briefly limiting the reader's ability to critically evaluate the materials presented or the conclusions reached.

Some of the more interesting and engaging essays are those that present a historical perspective on the lives of American children represented with related quotes, illustrations, and figures. …

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