While travelling the world in order to write her award-winning book Wild, Jay Griffiths became increasingly aware of the huge differences in how childhood is experienced in various cultures. One central riddle, in particular, captured her imagination: why are so many children in Euro-American cultures unhappy – and why is it that children in many traditional cultures seem happier?
In Kith (link is external) Jay Griffiths explores these questions and many more. Moving from communities in West Papua and the Arctic to the ostracised young people of contemporary Britain, she asks why we have enclosed our children in a consumerist cornucopia but denied them the freedoms of space, time and deep play. She uses history, philosophy, language and literature to illustrate children’s affinity for the natural world and the essential quest element of childhood. “Her work is not just good – it’s necessary.” – Philip Pullman