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Children's Understanding of Death
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Book description

In order to understand how adults deal with children's questions about death, we must examine how children understand death, as well as the broader society's conceptions of death, the tensions between biological and supernatural views of death and theories on how children should be taught about death. This collection of essays comprehensively examines children's ideas about death, both biological and religious. Written by specialists from developmental psychology, pediatrics, philosophy, anthropology and legal studies, it offers a truly interdisciplinary approach to the topic. The volume examines different conceptions of death and their impact on children's cognitive and emotional development and will be useful for courses in developmental psychology, clinical psychology and certain education courses, as well as philosophy classes - especially in ethics and epistemology. This collection will be of particular interest to researchers and practitioners in psychology, medical workers and educators - both parents and teachers.


"Children’s understanding of death is a fascinating topic, but difficult to study because of its troubling and taboo nature. This edited collection is the first of its kind, and it’s going to have a big impact. The essays are thoughtful, provocative, and well-written. They explore a variety of issues, including afterlife beliefs in other cultures, the relationship between children’s scientific and religious understanding, philosophical and legal issues, and the moving question of how to talk about death with children – including with those who are themselves dying. This is valuable reading for developmental psychologists, educators, and parents.”
– Paul Bloom, Yale University

“This landmark book offers a comprehensive new look at children’s understanding of death. Cross-cultural evidence, brought together here for the first time, shows that spiritual afterlife beliefs develop, not out of confusion, but as an addition to a natural understanding of death as the end of biological life. Consciousness of biological mortality lays the ground for ideas about spiritual immortality. Taking these two dimensions of understanding seriously, this volume brings together the work of experts in cognitive science, education, pediatrics, philosophy and law to offer an exceptionally wise, integrated review of the field. The book will be of interest to anyone who is interested in understanding and supporting children who are facing this core reality of the human condition.”
–Carl Johnson, University of Pittsburgh

“This is an incredibly important book. Hopefully, this diverse, interesting, and highly readable collection of essays will stimulate much-needed conversations among academics, educators, and parents that will serve to break down long-standing cultural taboos regarding death. The essays within this collection represent a breadth of knowledge and expertise from developmental psychology, pediatrics, philosophy, anthropology, and legal studies. This breadth and scope of expertise focused on children in diverse cultures and how they come to embrace and reason about death are remarkable.”
–Karl S. Rosengren, Northwestern University

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