For three decades, Corsaro (sociology, Indiana U., Bloomington) has conducted intensive ethnographic fieldwork on the culture of children. In this comparative analysis, he explores private middle-class preschools and government-supported Head Start programs for economically disadvantaged children in the U.S., and public preschools in Italy. He finds that children from all three groups want to gain control over their lives and share that sense of control with their peers, but they differ in their interpersonal styles of interaction, formation and maintenance of friendships, and strategies for engaging in and settling conflicts. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
The world of the child is both a preparation for adulthood and a total society of its own, and these books map it from quite different perspectives. Sociologist Corsaro (The Sociology of Childhood) provides a comparative description of preschool education in the United States and Italy, using participant-observation methodology in economically diverse settings. His research, which began in the 1970s (Berkeley, CA) and concluded in 2001 (Modena, Italy), focuses on children's friendship processes. Topics include conflict, types of play, adult role rehearsal, and sharing and social participation. Interestingly, he concludes that the Italian preschool system, which is more fully integrated into the larger society, generated a richer and more complex peer culture. Ways to improve the U.S. version are also discussed. The Unwritten Rules of Friendship is a more direct advisory manual for parents concerned about their children "fitting in" with peers. Elman (director, Summit Ctr. for Learning, NJ) and Kennedy-Moore (Expressing Emotion: Myths, Realities, and Therapeutic Strategies) rely on research and clinical experience to formulate nine prototypes of children with friendship problems. These range from passive (e.g., "sensitive soul") to more aggressive (e.g., "intimidating" children, "short-fused" children, and born leaders) personalities. Chapters provide checklists for evaluation, social rules such children need to know, learning activities, and case studies. Corsaro's book contains unique and valuable policy insights into early education issues, though the research covers an unusually lengthy time span; recommended for academic and specialized early childhood education collections. Colorfully written and practical, Unwritten Rules offers many tips for anxious parents. Whereas similar books limit their perspective to the bully/victim paradigm, this one covers more diverse personality problems in a somewhat cursory but productive way. Recommended for public library parenting collections.-Antoinette Brinkman, Evansville, IN Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.