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The Riddle of the Childscape

Jay Griffiths, writer

Date/Time: 5th March 2015

Jay Griffiths discusses some of the huge differences in how childhood is experienced in various cultures to ask why we have enclosed our children in a consumerist cornucopia but denied them the freedoms of space, time and deep play.

She uses anthropology, history, philosophy, language and literature to illustrate children's affinity for the natural world, for animals and woodlands, and examines the quest element of childhood. Arguing that the risk-averse society enfeebles children, robbing them of the physical freedom they both want and need.

Griffiths illustrates how the stress of overscheduled lives denies children their hours of unclocked reverie. From the magic of fairy tales to the importance of metaphor and the need for each child to follow their unique path, the book excavates the profound world of a child's spirit.

Speaker biography

Jay Griffiths is the author of Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time for which she won the Discover award for the best new non-fiction writer to be published in the USA.

Her second book (Wild: An Elemental Journey) was shortlisted for both the Orwell prize and for the World Book Day award. It won the inaugural 2007 Orion Book Award in the USA. Her third, Kith or A Country Called Childhood, was listed in the New York Times Editors' Choice for 2014.

She has also written fiction, including A Love Letter from a Stray Moon, partly based on the life of Frida Kahlo.