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A World of Babies: Imagined Childcare Guides for Seven Societies 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521664752
ISBN-10: 0521664756
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This unusual compilation makes for much more fascinating reading than would a strict narrative about international child-rearing practices. The editors (Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) present seven societies by way of fictional childcare manuals in the manner of Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care. Some of the imaginary advisers cited are based on real people (e.g., grandmothers) whom new parents might consult. In some cases, the authors present their own field studies while cautioning that these are "in no way intended to advise members of these societies on how to raise their children." The point is not to prescribe from the conceit of Western society but to report how different cultures view child rearing. All child-rearing practices derive from layers of cultural traditions established through generations, and the similarities and differences among these seven diverse societies are striking. What remains constant is the care of children and their place in each society. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.
-Margaret Cardwell, Georgia Perimeter Coll., Clarkston
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Every culture thinks that it knows the best way to care for babies. DeLoache and Gottlieb, both professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, have gathered fictionalized accounts, based on factual information and including a brief description of the culture, of how various societies throughout history and the world think their offspring should be raised. Each of these accounts is written in a style similar to Dr. Benjamin Spock's child-care manuals, but using the traditions of each represented culture to create an analogous guidebook. This is an entertaining and educational collection of invented guidebooks spanning the globe. Questions such as what is the key to a successful pregnancy, when to bathe the baby, how long to nurse, and how to celebrate the various ceremonies that revolve around a birth are descriptively explained through the eyes of societies such as the Puritans of New England, the Fulani of western Africa, and a Muslim village in central Turkey. This book is an intriguing opportunity to learn about other cultures. Julia Glynn
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (May 18, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521664756
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521664752
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #335,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on January 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Wonderful perspective(s) on raising kids! DeLoache and Gottlieb have succeeded in making "A world of Babies" amusing, yet there's that serious undercurrent of promoting understanding. I recommend it for young moms and dads -- there are lots of good ways to bring up babies. This grandma enjoyed it tremendously. As my own mom used to say, you can make all kinds of mistakes rearing children, but as long as you give them lots of love they'll turn out fine.
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I read a lot of books on childcare, and have always been interested in other cultures, so this immediately caught my eye. "A World of Babies" is seven "childcare manuals" from the perspective of seven different societies around the world. It's the brainchild of a group of anthropologists, and you will be hard pressed to find something like this anywhere else.

I found it fascinating how the different societies were so different, and yet many had common threads and beliefs. Some things that the other cultures believed varied from interesting (such as the Balinese always holding an infant's head up because they are considered sacred) to flat out horrifying (such as the Turkish Muslim mothers kissing and stroking their sons' genitals to both encourage toilet training and make him proud of being male). I also found it really interesting how much Puritan beliefs have influenced current American childcare. All in all though, learning about the different cultures was a fun and interesting experience.

Like all compilation books this was a bit inconsistent and not very uniform. On the whole all of the chapters covered pregnancy, childbirth, and early infancy. Some went as far as raising the children into puberty, and others stopped roughly at toddlerhood. While I like the book part of the format did irritate me. The authors all created a fictional "biography" of the "author" of their chapter. I really don't understand what the point or purpose of that was, because they had to go out of their way to explain it was all made up. I think it would have been less confusing and made more sense if they just wrote their "manuals" as anthropologists who studied the cultures, rather than pretending to write as people within that culture.
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A World of Babies is beautifully written, inviting, and engaging from the outset. I so appreciate the challenge to our notion that the American way of childrearing is superior. There is just enough commentary on the absurdity of the American model of generic advice in most childrearing books without being insulting. Page 89 reminds us to "Figure out who your baby is...." This book challenges and informs; it affords the reader a rich peek into the deeply held beliefs and spiritual practices that form the underpinnings of parenting practices in various cultures. It forces the reader to respectfully remember that when childrearing practices look different from those of one's own culture, it is a terrible and unjust mistake to assume it is less sophisticated than that which is practiced in our industrialized culture. In fact, many of the childrearing practices shared in this book reflect what I consider to be a more spiritually grounded approach to who/what a child is. The practices shared that concern caring for a new mother and the new mother/baby pair far exceed the care we provide in the US and reflect a greater understanding and appreciation for the psychological needs and vulnerabilities of a new mother, her deep need for rest, social support, and a slow transition to returning to her full responsibilities. We could learn a lot from those cultures that have more established rituals and supports for the transition to parenthood.
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I bought this book for a class I'm taking, and while educational for that purpose, I think many women and men would benefit from the information in this book. Its wonderful to understand different cultural practices and what might be touted by todays doctors as "the best way to do things" was actually a practice made by misinformed doctors in the 1800's.
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I just finsished this book and loved it! It is very informative, but also creative in it's format. I definatly recommend reading it if you are interested in mother/child/family relationships in various cultures in various points in history.
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I loved this book. They took all dryess out of an anthroplogic look at babies in diffrent cultures.
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this book shows how babies are cared for and in some ways even honoured in seven societies around the world.some manuals are written by family members and others by respected members of the society in question(fictional members of course)

this is a good book,a change from other baby books in the sense that it is not boring and it may even give you a few tips on improving your relationship with you child or caring for them better
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