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Escape From Childhood

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  236 ratings  ·  24 reviews
The Needs and Rights of Children, by John Holt. The case for treating children like real people, not pets and slaves, and for making available to them all the adult rights & responsibilities as outlined in the U.S. Bill of Rights. This book will challenge not only your ideas about what constitutes "childhood" In today's society, but your ideas about society as a whole. ...more
Published September 1st 1996 by Holt Associates (first published January 1st 1974)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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Michele James-Parham
Apr 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: parents, educators, therapists, homeschoolers, unschoolers
This review is from my blog post, which can be found here:

As promised in my last post, I am going to review John Holt’s book, Escape From Childhood: The Needs and Rights of Children. I don’t really have the time nor the space to philosophize about each point in this book or to cover all the rights Holt would like to see children given…I’ll leave that to someone else. However, I will focus on a few points in the book that speak loudly to me on how we view
Feb 07, 2013 rated it did not like it
Rating as a 1 since I can't rate it zero.

Coming from a family where Holt was considered practically a god, I can speak to the ideals in his books. Holt says he learned about the sexual needs of children by spending large amounts of time babysitting his friends' infants and small children. He claims small children have sexual needs and should not be denied sexual pleasure. (Walks like a pedo, talks like a pedo... you get my drift.)

Look at pedophile apologist boards and Holt's work comes up everyw
Oktawian Chojnacki
A must read for every human, not only parents.

We could try to treat children as human beings for a change.
Marissa Morrison
May 10, 2009 rated it did not like it
The author claims that children ought to be allowed to do all number of things, including driving, traveling alone, and having sex (with other children as well as with adults). To back up these arguments, he refers to sightings of children in parks, airports and schools where he has made brief visits.

It's all so preposterous! My husband thinks that John Caldwell Holt may have been the pen name of a twelve-year-old boy, but I suspect that this book can be better explained by one of the later cha
Kathleen O'Neal
Jun 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the books everyone in radical youth rights circles seems to have read and for good reason. Those who exhort Holt's commitment to unschooling without taking stock of the broader arguments for youth liberation represented in this work do a fundamental disservice to his legacy, much like those who erase MLK's radical critiques of capitalism and anti-racism from his legacy. ...more
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
I don't remember when was the last time I was reading a book and blatantly disagreeing with the author, only to be completely persuaded by his arguments at the end of the book.

As a teacher, child's rights and a homeschooling enthusiast, I completely loved this book.

I felt like I already knew what's inherently wrong with the way of how we treat children in our current society, but the book helped me spotlight the wrongdoings.

The book is filled with an example by example of situations where you ca
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
a great book for any one who wants to know what all the child needs .. how we can give them truly everything's..

gets boring sometimes though..
Lisa Manske
Very thought-provoking book even though I disagree with many of the author's points. This book is extremely libertarian, perhaps anarchist, in it's approach to children, parents, and society. While I do not fully agree with Holt's philosophy as described in this book, it did help me reevaluate some things as I do believe that children should have far more ownership of their lives than is common in today's society. ...more
Jan 01, 2009 rated it liked it
In this era of hypersensitivity to civil rights, it's astonishing that few stop to consider the civil rights of children. It seems like the same blind spot we've had for different races and sexual preferences until recently. We seem to have no problem denying even fundamental human rights to children, to treat them like objects for the benefit of adults, to control and visit abuses upon them that no adult would stand for.

This book challenges these assumptions. He makes the case the "children" is
Jake Desyllas
Jun 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Holt explores all the ways in which children are not currently treated as full human beings, and he presents arguments as to why they should be. Some aspects of the book didn't appeal to me, such as his long discussion about why he thinks children should be given the vote. However, it's a great book especially his overall argument of how immoral it is to treat children as pets and how they deserve to be treated with respect as people.

Here are two great quotes.
1. On abusive parenting:
"For a
Daniel Meehan
This is one of the most thought-provoking books I've ever read. Wrong in many, many ways but it forces you to re-evaluate your assumptions about age, maturity and the 'innocence' of childhood. Arguing from the position that children should have all the same rights as adults, Holt challenges us to find a genuine argument for why children should not be allowed to drive, vote, own property and choose with whom they live.

It's easy to dismiss these ideas out of hand, but Holt makes a persuasive case
Tangled Tourista
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a very rare book, and indeed a very rare thought. Escape from childhood will actually show you a different side of childhood, the side which children see. It is rare, it is controversial and it is provocative. I would say that John Holt is a daring writer, surprisingly this book was first published in 1974. Presenting these thoughts at that time must be a bold act, and here we are still making childhood special for our children. The thoughts he has showcased in the book hits my mind hard ...more
May 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Books written by such well-educated, well-spoken and intellectual people just make me feel warm and fuzzy. I loved this book. Even if I didn't agree with Holt, this book is FASCINATING. But I do agree with him (except for his ideas on giving everyone money). I have been saying most of these things for years now, but in different ways.I haven't really thought about giving children freedom within our institution of mass coercion since I don't support any of it even for adults so some of Holt's ide ...more
Dec 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
My least preferred John Holt book. Ideas similar to those in the book "The Case against Adoloescence" by Robert Epstein. They are both arguing that children should be treated with the same respect afforded to adults, and should have some of the same rights. I think I preferred Epstein's book because it pushed the ideas further. Maybe he got the inspiration from John Holt.
Also, I am confused by some of the points made by Holt in this book, as they seem to contradict some of his ideas in other boo
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one
The Good:
-Makes valid points about having common respect and courtesy towards youth
-Gives enlightening and insightful methods of raising and "handling" children.
-Amazing theories for education reform

The Bad:
-Socialistic politics
-Avocation of abortion
-Lost interest around the last few chapters...

I agree with Holt's policy of respecting children and treating them as humans. However, I severely disagree with many of his political views.
Piers Haslam
Apr 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really interesting book; I find Holt's reasoning very sound, despite it being quite hard to imagine the implementation of some of his ideas. It all deserves a lot of thought.

This book confirms my dodgy hypothesis that one very often has to go back in time to read something truly radical. Recommended.
Anaswara Jose
May 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: growing-up, on-kindle
A passionate argument for the rights of children. Some of the ideas are a little too revolutionary, gives amazing insights about "respecting the individual", be it child or adult. A must read for any of us who have ever said to a child.."These are the best years of your life...enjoy them!" Are we presenting to them the a sad and desolate picture of the "grown-up world"?
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
I tried to give it a chance.... Some of his ideas are totally crazy and really hard to imagine. But then there would suddenly be something I could agree with or like or agreed on. Most of the book seemed unreal or unbelievable. A few parts did make sense. Definitely a completely different idea about children and parenting than mainstream society.
Maurice Frank
Dec 12, 2013 rated it liked it
grumpier and not so emotionally sympathetic as his anti-school books. I was surprised by that.
Aug 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Challenging and provoking.
Don Gubler
Apr 09, 2015 rated it liked it
From reading this and other books I think we sell children short and don't give them what they need to continue being amazing later in life. ...more
Elizabeth Lund
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
basically all stuff I agreed with; well-articulated and argued. Relied too much on concept of minimum guaranteed income. Interesting to see what has happened and what hasn't in the past 40 years. ...more
Nov 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
a manifesto arguing that children should have more of the same rights as adults (including the right to work, vote, travel, etc.)
Oct 26, 2007 rated it it was ok
funny. though i didnt really like this book, its come up several times this week.
Jennifer Johnson
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After teaching in private schools for many years John Caldwell Holt wrote his first two books, How Children Fail, and How Children Learn. He became a vocal advocate for school reforms, and wrote several more books about education theory and practice, including alternative forms and many social issues relating to the education system. Eventually he decided school reform was impossible, and changed ...more

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