Excerpt from Consuming Kids by Susan Linn, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Consuming Kids

The Hostile Takeover of Childhood

By Susan Linn

Consuming Kids
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: May 2004,
    256 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2005,
    304 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


The advertising industry's spin is that parents—not corporations—are responsible for preventing the negative effects of media offerings and media marketing on children. Certainly there are things parents can do. For one thing, we can take televisions and computers out of our children's bedrooms. We can turn the television off during meals. We can monitor our own consumerism and talk with children about the meanings embedded in marketing messages. But parents can't do it alone. One family is hard-pressed to successfully combat a $15 billion industry. Parents and children need our help—as citizens, professionals, advocates, and activists.

The impact of corporate marketing on children's lives is breathtaking in its depth and reach and is expanding around the world virtually unchecked. This summer I sat in a restaurant in Santiago, Chile, surrounded by both Chilean families and posters of Barbie saying "Welcome" in a variety of languages. A few years ago, when my work took me to Tblisi, in the Republic of Georgia, I arrived during the grand opening of their second McDonald's. In the course of my research, I've come across studies of the buying habits of Chinese children and the impact of advertising on kids in India. I receive daily e-mails from colleagues around the country detailing marketing efforts ranging from the subtle (Coca Cola's million-dollar grant to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, for instance) to the blatant (the summer "camp" program that Toys "R" Us now runs in its stores).

Because marketing to children is so pervasive and affects so many aspect of their lives, my major struggle in writing about it has been in selecting topics and, of necessity, eliminating others. While marketing to children is an international problem, I have chosen to focus my attention on its impact on children and families in the United States because that's what I know best. Other books center specifically, and in detail, on single topics such as commercialism in the schools, for instance, or selling violence to children, or the effects of advertising on young girls. Instead, I've chosen to write about marketing from the perspective of what early childhood educators call "whole child development," taking the position that children are multifaceted beings whose physical, psychological, social, emotional, and spiritual development are all threatened when their value as consumers trumps their value as people.

While trying to find a home for this book, I encountered a lot of initial interest that rapidly diminished. Most publishers wanted me to write a "how to" book for parents. They envisioned a book entitled something like Empowering Families: A Twelve-Step Program for Raising Advertising-Resistant Children. That was not the book I had in mind, and so it was a relief when André Schiffrin at The New Press called and said, "I'm concerned that your book proposal is a bit too prescriptive."

Given that, I recognize that it's unfair to describe in gory detail the depth and breadth of how marketing affects children without offering some specific suggestions for what to do about it in both the short and the long terms. There are steps we can take as parents, as members of a larger community, and as citizens to stop the commercial exploitation of children. I outline these in chapter 12. I've also included a list of resources for public action. Throughout, I refer to the people taking care of children at home as parents. I mean that term to include grandparents, guardians, and anyone who has primary responsibility for raising a child.

I've never heard anyone, aside from an occasional marketing executive, say that advertising to children is good for them. And there's mounting evidence that it's harmful. Its motivating force is greed, just as surely as greed is the motivation for those corporate executives who cannibalize their own companies, create sweatshops, and artificially inflate consumer energy costs.

From Consuming Kids by Susan Linn, pages 1-10. Copyright Susan Linn 2004. All rights reserved. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher, The New Press.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  132Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.