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When We Were Free to Be: Looking Back at a Children’s Classic and the Difference It Made Hardcover – November 27, 2012
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Important, rousing, and thought-provoking.--The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth
[A] thoughtful, nuanced work of scholarship. . . . The essays engage Free to Be from a diverse array of perspectives, situate it in a clear and compelling historical context, and bring to bear satisfying cultural analysis and cultural criticism.--H-Childhood
Recommended. All levels/libraries.--Choice
Like any compilation, some entries are more compelling than others, but overall I really liked the extremely broad approach, ranging from behind-the-scenes accounts of the original production to critiques of how well the material has held up in terms of the changing social values. Anyone interested in nonsexist child rearing or the history of women's liberation should pick this up.--Sarah Holt, Children's Book Buyer, Left Bank Books, St. Louis
An unprecedented insiders' view by the original creators, as well as accounts by activists and educators who changed the landscape of childhood in schools, homes, toy stores, and libraries nationwide.--Forces of Geek
Readers familiar with the original record or book, both still available, and researchers interested in social, gender, and media studies will appreciate this work.--Library Journal
A moving reminder that the women's movement was and is ardently pro-child. These fascinating reminiscences and timely essays about what still needs doing to make our children truly 'free to be' will have you singing the songs again--or discovering the joy of learning them.--Stephanie Coontz, author of A Strange Stirring: the Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s
In this stunning examination of the cultural impact of Marlo Thomas's classic record album and book, an imposing array of scholars, artists, and activists explain how one set of childhood ideals--highly critical of gender stereotypes and strongly supportive of individuality, tolerance and free play--gave way to today's world of helicopter parents and a commercial culture which inundates young girls with princess fantasies and boys with images of violent, muscled men. Riveting and timely.--Steven Mintz, Columbia University, author of Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood
Finally, a book that takes seriously the kids' record that altered the way a generation saw the world and itself. When We Were Free to Be will likely take you back in time, but the story it tells is of a remarkable moment, in which children were entrusted to shape the future. An exhilarating book about an exhilarating (and catchy!) piece of our popular culture.--Rebecca Traister, staff writer for Salon and author of Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women
It was hard to change the laws keeping women from equal opportunity. But it's harder still to overcome the internal, culturally learned barriers that lock women--and men--into self-limiting roles at work, at home, and in civic leadership. Free to Be showed my daughters they had the power to lead their own dreams. Now, in passionate and touching personal accounts, When We Were Free to Be shows how profoundly this one book has empowered an entire generation.--Gloria Feldt, author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power
A revolutionary document breaks with the past, yes, but it also exposes the former taken-for-grantedness of the world it's displacing. Free to Be was a declaration of independence for children's dreams, unshackled by archaic stereotypes that had once seemed timeless truths. That it is seen by some today as obvious or naive is because it so utterly supplanted the previous mindset. This marvelous collection reminds us of that paradigm shift, still gently iconoclastic, while reminding us how far we have yet to go.--Michael Kimmel, author of The Gendered Society
Like the children's classic that inspired it, When We Were Free to Be is a groundbreaking cultural critique wrapped in an inspiring, funny, and creative package. It's filled with incisive reflections on the long-lasting impact of Free to Be and the legacy of feminism. Nothing like it exists.--Christina Baker Kline, author of novels and nonfiction books, including Bird in Hand
How wonderful it is to see the paths taken by the younger contributors to this book--the ones who were children when Free to Be was first released. Reading about their journeys delighted and inspired me.--Marlo Thomas, from the Prologue
Top customer reviews
My advice is to listen to the original CD. Read the original book. Watch the original television special. All are a pleasure. This look back . . . not so much.