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The Spiritual Life of Children Paperback – October 10, 1991

ISBN-13: 004-6442599238 ISBN-10: 0395599237 Edition: Reprint
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Child psychiatrist Coles interviews children from various cultural and religious backgrounds to find out what God means to them and how God fits into their lives. "The children, most around the age of 10, respond with fervency and depth that confirm Coles's close, respectful attention," said PW. Illustrated.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

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
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (October 10, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395599237
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395599235
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Coles is professor emeritus at Harvard University and the author of numerous books, including his series Children of Crisis, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. He has also won a MacArthur Award, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a National Humanities Medal. He lives in Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Wyote VINE VOICE on August 30, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book from a point-of-view more interested from a theological than psychological (not that these have to be kept separate), and I suspect that EVERYONE who studies theology could benefit from listening to children describe their own spiritualities.
Coles' narration is occasionally insightful, occasionally annoying, always self-conscious. He interviews children alone and in groups, listening and participating in their reflections and conversations. He interviews various races and religions, including chapters on Christian, Jewish, Islamic and secular children in America, the UK, Tunisia and Israel. I found his interviews with Hopi children very provocative.
The book has both intellectual and spiritual value, and I hope it is read more widely than it has been.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
Although this book was published in 1991, the ideas, attitudes, and spiritual insights of the children interviewed are as fresh and important as when the discussions first occurred. As adults we tend to dismiss the ability of children to offer their own interpretation of the Divine. This book clearly shows that it is frequently the adults that don't "get it." I found it especially appealing that Coles did not limit himself solely to children with a Christian background. The inclusion of Muslim, Jewish, and Native American children indicates that children's spirituality cuts across religious and cultural lines. I only wish Robert Coles had included more interviews and drawings!
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By James Wood on April 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Robert Coles' insightful study of children's ideas about God and religion also opens an important window on the question of the proper approah of science to religion. Coles appears to struggle personally with this issue, deciding in the end that the scientist may properly take a person's religious beliefs at face value. The delightful discussions with children that lead toward this conclusion make compelling reading.
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