This is a reprint of John Holt's controversial book about the rights of children and how adults and children can live and learn together more enjoyably and transparently by rethinking their relationships. Under the guise of care and protection, children are kept in the walled garden of childhood, outside the world of human experience, for longer periods than ever before in human history. But for many children and parents, the walled garden of childhood is more like a prison, where authorities compel and limit personal actions. What if children had the right to do, in general, what any adult may legally do? The reader who dares to confront such a question will discover new family relationships, not based on parental control, but on the joy of shared experience and responsibilities.
"Astonishingly cogent. John Holt's book is beautiful in its beautiful respect for children and its insistence on their dignity."—New York Times
“We, in modern-day America, underestimate children’s abilities to make reasonable judgments far more than have any other people at any other place or time in history. In the name of protecting children we hurt them, sometimes viciously. As Holt shows brilliantly, children need the same rights to advance their own interests and protect themselves as we grant to adults.”
—Dr. Peter Gray, author of Free to Learn
"With his usual profound interest in observing children in the world, Holt presents a series of arguments about the nature of childhood that any serious educator or parent should thoughtfully explore."
—Kirsten Olson, author of Wounded By School and Schools As Colonizers
“For the sake of our young people, I humbly recommend that if you have read it, it's time to re-read it; if you have not, it's now time. The urgency is that we desperately need a more gentle, loving, and friendly world for our young people and there is no better inspiration than Holt's Escape From Childhood to spur us to action.”
—Carlo Ricci, Professor of Education and author of The Willed Curriculum, Unschooling, and Self-Direction
John Holt (1923–1985) was a fifth-grade teacher and the bestselling author of How Children Fail, How Children Learn, Learning All the Time, Teach Your Own, and six other books about education. He was an important figure in the school reform movement of the 1960s, the children's rights movement of the 1970s, and in the homeschooling movement he helped start in 1977 and which continues today.