A longitudinal study in which the researcher has worked with the participants over so many years is rare and remarkable. This is a fascinating portrayal of five children as they grow up from the age of 3 to 17. It creates a window into their internal lives and provides an unusually detailed view of intrapersonal development, focusing specifically on the construction of personal identity throughout their years at school. The words of the children dominate the pages - they talk about who they believe themselves to be, how they have changed and how they have remained the same, and they reflect on how school experiences have contributed to their narratives of self. The stories are moving, sometimes gripping, and provide a vivid and grounded illustration of current thinking about the nature and function of identity.
Policy for children and young people should be rooted in their real lives. The stories told here illuminate current debates about educational purposes, so contributing to the increasing international concern with children’s wellbeing and the push to incorporate socio-emotional education into schools and children’s services.
The book is important for all who work in a professional capacity with children and young people including parents. With its conclusions from the vast interdisciplinary body of literature, it will interest academics and students concerned with the study of identity. The case studies provide an excellent teaching resource for undergraduates and postgraduates alike within child orientated disciplines especially education, sociology, psychology and childhood studies. It is particularly recommended for interdisciplinary courses that aim to prepare students for inter-professional work with children.