Jay Griffiths: The Riddle of the Childscape

Friday 14th June 6pm

The Pearce Institute, 840-860 Govan Rd, Glasgow G51 3UU

Entry by donation. No booking required.

You are warmly invited to join us as author Jay Griffiths shares her latest book ‘Kith: The Riddle of the Childscape’. This is the opening event of the Govan Folk University’s ‘Puppets in Partnership’ festival.

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 indigenous cultures. 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 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.

Kith examines the history of breaking the will of the child and explores issues of childhood privacy, contemporary surveillance, the importance of folk tales, children’s relationship with pets and the profound politics of childhood. It looks at the extraordinary psycho-drama played out when Settler children, taken by Native Americans, refused to be rescued, and includes the way children have seized power over their own lives. A book of stories, it includes the one real-life Lord of the Flies situation – with the result the reverse of Golding’s bleak vision.

In its urgent defence of the rights and needs of every child, Kith is an impassioned, illuminating analysis of the heart of human experience.

Jay Griffiths previous books include Wild: An Elemental Journey which won the inaugural Orion Book Award and was shortlisted for the Orwell prize; Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time which won the Barnes and Noble Discover Award for best new non-fiction writer in 2003; Anarchipelago and A Love Letter To A Stray Moon, a fictionalised biography of Frida Khalo.

Advance praise for Kith

‘Kith could have been written by no-one but Jay Griffiths. It is ablaze with her love of the physical world and her passionate moral sense that goodness and a true relation with nature are intimately connected. She has the same visionary understanding of childhood that we find in Blake and Wordsworth, and John Clare would have read her with delight. Her work isn’t just good – it’s necessary’ Philip Pullman

‘Jay Griffiths writes with such richness and mischief about the one thing that could truly save the world: its children’ KT Tunstall

‘An impassioned, visionary plea to restore to our children the spirit of adventure, freedom and closeness to nature that is their birthright. We must hear it and act on it before it is too late’
Iain McGilchrist

‘Kith is a call to live life intensely and authentically, vividly, and with grace, humour and passion. Griffiths has politised awe and wonder and play’ Niall Griffiths

‘Jay Griffiths is one of our most poetic and passionate critics of the ways of civilisation, provocative, illuminating and shamelessly romantic’ Theodore Zeldin

‘Kith is a subterranean book. We excavate it to refind the secrets of childhood, our own, and many other childhoods in times and places far from ours. We join an underground resistance to the capital of grown-up greed, accountancy and profit. We rejoin the Bears.’ John Berger


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