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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Our Kids

Jacket cover--Our Kids
During my travels last week, I whiled away quite a few hours in airports and airplanes reading Our Kids:  The American Dream in Crisis by Robert Putnam.  In it, he talks about the growing opportunity gap between economic classes.  Kids who have economic privilege have access to more extra-curricular opportunities, more informal mentors, more social safety nets and support than ever before.  Kids who grow up in poverty are increasingly isolated from these opportunities, as fees for extra-curricular activities increase and segregation based on economic class grows.  According to Putnam, there used to be more of an attitude that all kids were the community's responsibility--Our Kids.  Now, he says, families in the upper income brackets are not even aware of the kids living in poverty in their community because their circles never intersect.  I think he paints too rosy a picture of the past, particularly with regard to race, but the statistics he cites about opportunities, graduation rates, and college matriculation are stark.  I found a lot to think about in this book, and I recommend it for librarians who are thinking about what needs to happen to even the playing field for all the kids in their community.

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