The Stolen Year

This book ‘The Stolen Year: How COVID Changed Children’s Lives, and Where We Go Now’ by Anya Kamenetz is a narrative of the massive educational disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Though Covid-19 hit everyone hard, the author focuses on its wide-reaching effects on children in this well-researched, enlightening book.

The author goes into welcome depth on the consequences of a year without in-person schooling, chronicling her interviews with children who have health issues and compromised immune systems, those with special needs who function better with a regular routine, and those from low-income families who rely on the school lunch program.The parents are also an integral part of the book, and the author is sympathetic to their plights with lost jobs due to downsizing or the necessity of child care. Throughout, the author shares the small details of quotidian life, creating a crystal-clear picture of the extent to which the pandemic has affected children.

During 2020 and 2021, countless children suffered greater hunger, had an indifference to schoolwork, and became fearful, depressed, anxious, and withdrawn.

Their trauma equaled—or often exceeded—that of adults, but few received adequate assistance.

Unfortunately, the author also shows how the trauma is not over for millions and that what they experienced during the height of the pandemic will haunt them for years.

She is careful to note, however, that “not one of them is doomed.” After noting the ways that government, health, and education officials let children down, the author offers useful ideas on what areas must change, including an overhaul of the system that determines guidelines for special needs, placing more value on the work of caregivers, and revamping the entire welfare system.

No one knows the long-term effects the pandemic will have on children but the author gives readers areas to watch as time progresses and the pandemic waxes and wanes in the years to come.


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