Reviews: For your shelf

- Child Care Today: What we know and what we need to know

By Penelope Leach (Polity Press, £14.99, 9780745647005)

Reviewed by Ted Melhuish, Professor of Human Development at Birkbeck, University of London, and Visiting Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Education, University of London

This book is both important and timely. Penelope Leach is renowned for addressing the thorny questions about childcare without coming from one particular 'side', facing sensibly the fact that the majority of parents with young children will at some time seek to have them cared for by someone other than themselves, and that parents juggle the competing responsibilities of caring for their children and earning money to support them, or gaining qualifications so that they can support them better.

The book is divided into four parts. The first covers societal issues and childcare policy. Part two is the meat of the book, reviewing what is known about a range of different types of childcare. It is noteworthy that this book is not limited to non-parental childcare. Families' experiences are richly illustrated by quotations from interviews conducted as part of the Families, Children and Childcare study, co-directed by Dr Leach.

It is interesting that the issue of quality is presented separately in the third part of the book. It has become increasingly evident from research that quality of care is the most relevant aspect of any setting in which a young child spends time.

The final part of the book takes all the information about types of care and their strengths and weaknesses, asking how society should move forward. How should childcare be funded? Is it harmful for children to experience childcare? A further question of whether it is beneficial could also be added; and how do attitudes to families, parental responsibility and childcare link up?

Dr Leach concludes strongly that children are the responsibility of all members of society, not just their parents, so childcare issues must also be the responsibility of all.

- Planning for Children's Play and Learning: Meeting children's needs in the later stages of the EYFS (third edition)

By Jane Drake (David Fulton, £19.99, 978-0-415-48597-5)

This new edition, by a nursery teacher with EYPS who works as a lead children's centre teacher in Leeds, reflects the EYFS themes, principles, commitments and guidance and recognises the importance of play as a context for teaching, learning and assessment. It is packed with practical guidance and has key points for good practice in every chapter, with links to the EYFS.

- An Introduction to Early Childhood (second edition)

By Tim Waller (Sage, £19.99, 978-1-84787-518-1)

This book will be a particularly useful resource for Early Childhood Studies students. It covers many themes in early childhood education and care, featuring new chapters on working with families, children's well-being, outdoor play and learning, understanding diversity and workforce development and professionalism.

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