What Is This Childhood?

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What Is This Childhood? Finding the Spirit of Early Childhood in Language and Creative Living with Our Families

This book explores the consciousness of the young child through language development, often in their own words. The child’s early utterances reveal a unity of word and experience and of experience and meaning. Children live more fully in perception than conception. Yet, speech as it unfolds eventually leads the child to abstraction, self-consciousness, and critical thinking.

This journey into childhood will deepen the quality of our attention and presence in each moment, enlivening our speech and interactions and thereby preserving our children’s sense of wonder and spiritual connection.

C O N T E N T S:

Author’s Preface: My Brother Michael

1. What Is This Childhood?
2. The Dance of Reciprocity
3. Sound, Saying, Naming: A Mother’s Observations
4. Rhyme, Rhythm, Repetition: In Praise of Mother Goose
5. Language as Expressive, Creative Power
6. Oneness to Separation / Experience to Concepts
7. The Heart of Experience
8. Me, Myself, I
9. Memory
10. Living in Pictures: Story through the Ages
12. A Person Becomes a Person through Other People
13. Attention Is Love: What’s Outside Will Later Be Inside
14. Play Is Doing: Nothing Is Everything
15. Language Matters
16. What Is This Childhood? 94

1. Prayers / Meditations for Parents
2. Nature Story Favorites Retold: Life Affirmations
3. Two Teaching Stories
4. A Grimm’s Fairytale
5. Instructions for Felt Standing Puppets

Sources that Inspired This Work
About the Author and Artist

About the Author

Carol Toole: In the mid-’70s, the parents of a nursery cooperative in the spiritual community where she lived asked her to be lead teacher. She was just 21, but they often noticed her in the doorway observing the children. Soon her quest to create an environment that fosters children’s innate sense of wonder led her to become a Waldorf kindergarten teacher. Later, she pursued training as an educational therapist, focusing on sensory development and written language instruction.

During the past forty years, she has been a teacher, storyteller, puppeteer, writer, and parent educator, creating a popular series called Creative Living with the Young Child. More recently, she provides Academic Language Therapy, movement therapy, and strategic tutoring to grade-school children and oversees the literacy program at the Austin Waldorf School. Now a grandmother, she is inspired to combine her parenting workshops, observations of children, and love for language at its inception to ponder the question, “What is this childhood?”

Carol’s publications include articles in Renewal Magazine, poetry and essays in the Real Women Write Anthologies, and Tara’s Spring Wish, a book for children.

Additional information

Weight 17 oz
Dimensions 7.5 × 0.5 × 9 in


Eva Hoisington




October 2023






Bell Pond Books


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