It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us is a book published in 1996 by First Lady of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton. In it, Clinton presents her vision for the children of America. She focuses on the impact individuals and groups outside the family have, for better or worse, on a child's well-being, and advocates a society which meets all of a child's needs. The book was written with uncredited ghostwriter Barbara Feinman.

It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us
Front cover
AuthorHillary Rodham Clinton
PublisherSimon & Schuster
Publication date
January 1996
Media typePrint (Hardcover)
305.23/10973 22
LC ClassHQ792.U5 C57 2006
Followed byDear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids' Letters to the First Pets (1998) 

The book was republished as a Tenth Anniversary Edition in 2006 and saw publication as a picture book in 2017.

History Edit

Publishers had approached Clinton since the spring of 1994 with the idea of writing a book, and announcement of the upcoming book came in April 1995 from the publisher she chose, Simon & Schuster.[1] It came in the wake of the Clinton health care plan of 1993, which she had led the effort for and which had suffered its final collapse in September 1994, and the book was seen by some observers as an effort to help reshape Clinton's image.[1] It was not unusual for a First Lady to write a book while still in office, with Barbara Bush's children-aimed Millie's Book the most recent prior example.[1] Eleanor Roosevelt was the first First Lady to write books while still in office, with the publication of "It's Up to the Women" in 1933, "This Troubled World" in 1938, and "The Moral Basis of Democracy" in 1940, among others.[2] Carolyn Reidy, head of Simon & Schuster's trade books division, said "We have all known that Hillary Rodham Clinton has devoted most of her career to issues of children. But outside of a handful of articles and speeches, her thoughts on these issues have not been available to everyone in an easily readable format. I think it will be an inspiring book."[1] The book was originally intended to come out in September 1995, but delays on the part of Clinton resulted in publication being delayed until January 1996.[3]

It was stated that Clinton would take no payments from the writing other than those to cover expenses, and that royalties from the book's sales would go to charity.[1]

In January 1996, Clinton went on a ten-city book tour and made numerous television appearances to promote the book,[4] although she was frequently hit with questions about her involvement in the Whitewater and Travelgate controversies.[3][5] The book spent 18 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List during 1996 including three weeks at number one.[6] By 2000 it had sold 450,000 copies in hardcover and another 200,000 in paperback.[7]

The theme of the book, at least as perceived from its title, aroused immediate opposition within the United States. A well known instance of this occurred during the 1996 presidential election when, during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Republican Party nominee Bob Dole said: "... with all due respect, I am here to tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child."[8] Criticism of Clinton's notion would continue to be made by American conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh, Andrea Tantaros, and Jonah Goldberg through the next two decades.[9]

In 1997, Clinton received a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for her audio recording of the book.[10]

In 2005, Senator Rick Santorum wrote a rebuttal to the book, It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good.

Contents Edit

  • Introduction
  • It Takes a Village
  • No Family Is an Island
  • Every Child Needs a Champion
  • The Bell Curve Is a Curve Ball
  • Kids Don't Come with Instructions
  • The World Is in a Hurry, Children Are Not
  • An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Intensive Care
  • Security Takes More Than a Blanket
  • The Best Tool You Can Give Your Child Is a Shovel
  • Children Are Born Believers
  • Childhood Can Be a Service Academy
  • Kids Are an Equal Employment Opportunity
  • Child Care Is Not a Spectator Sport
  • Education = Expectations
  • Seeing Is Believing
  • Every Business Is a Family Business
  • Children Are Citizens Too
  • Let Us Build a Village Worthy of Our

Synopsis Edit

The book emphasizes the shared responsibility that society has for successfully raising children, by looking at a number of angles as indicated in the chapter titles noted above. Clinton describes herself in the book as a Moderate, which is evidenced by a combination of advocating for government-driven social reforms while also espousing conservative values.

Clinton notes in the book many institutions responsible in some way for raising children, including: direct family, grandparents, neighbors, teachers, ministers, doctors, employers, politicians, nonprofits, faith communities, businesses, and international governmental groups.

Some of the goals and institutions that Clinton advocates for in the book include: the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, Community Policing, the Brady Bill, Amber Alerts, immunizations, State Children's Health Insurance Program, financial regulation, expanded Child Tax Credits, Minimum Wage increases, Universal health care, personal responsibility, uniforms in schools, Goals 2000 academic framework, music warning labels, sexual abstinence, Plan B contraception, family planning, and marriage.

Proverb question Edit

The book's title is attributed to an African proverb: "It takes a village to raise a child." The saying and its attribution as an "African" proverb were in circulation before it was adopted by Clinton as the source for the title of her book. Indeed, the saying previously provided the source for the title of a children's book entitled It Takes a Village by Jane Cowen-Fletcher, published in 1994.[11]

The authenticity of the proverb is debatable as there is no evidence that this precise proverb genuinely originated with any African culture.[12] However, numerous proverbs from different cultures across Africa have been noted that convey similar sentiments in different ways. As one poster on the scholarly list H-Net wrote, "While it is interesting to seek provenance in regard to the proverb, 'It takes a village to raise a child,' I think it would be misleading to ascribe its origin to a single source.... Let me give a few examples of African societies with proverbs which translate to 'It takes a village...': In Lunyoro (Banyoro) there is a proverb that says 'Omwana takulila nju emoi,' whose literal translation is 'A child does not grow up only in a single home.' In Kihaya (Bahaya) there is a saying, 'Omwana taba womoi,' which translates as 'A child belongs not to one parent or home.' In Kijita (Wajita) there is a proverb which says 'Omwana ni wa bhone,' meaning regardless of a child's biological parent(s) its upbringing belongs to the community. In Swahili, the proverb 'Asiyefunzwa na mamae hufunzwa na ulimwengu' approximates to the same."[12]

In 2016, NPR decided to research the origins of the proverb, and concluded it was unable to pinpoint its origins, but agreed with the H-Net discussion regarding it holding the true spirits of some African cultures.[13] It was part of a class of such-attributed sayings, with one observer stating, "If someone starts an aphorism with 'there's an African saying' it's probably a mythical quote misattributed to a whole continent."[13] NPR itself concluded, "What we found is that it takes a lot of phone calls to track down the origins of a proverb. And in the end, the answer might be: We just don't know."[13]

Ghostwriter controversy Edit

Clinton has been criticized for not giving credit to a ghostwriter in connection with It Takes a Village. The majority of the book was reportedly written by ghostwriter Barbara Feinman.[14] When the book was first announced in April 1995, The New York Times reported publisher Simon & Schuster as saying "The book will actually be written by Barbara Feinman, a journalism professor at Georgetown University in Washington. Ms. Feinman will conduct a series of interviews with Mrs. Clinton, who will help edit the resulting text."[1]

Feinman spent seven months on the project and was paid $120,000 for her work.[15] Feinman, however, was not mentioned anywhere in the book. Clinton's acknowledgment section began: "It takes a village to bring a book into the world, as everyone who has written one knows. Many people have helped me to complete this one, sometimes without even knowing it. They are so numerous that I will not even attempt to acknowledge them individually, for fear that I might leave one out."[16] During her promotional tour for the book, Clinton said, "I actually wrote the book ... I had to write my own book because I want to stand by every word."[3] Clinton stated that Feinman assisted in interviews and did some editorial drafting of "connecting paragraphs", while Clinton herself wrote the final manuscript in longhand.[3]

This led Feinman to complain at the time to Capitol Style magazine over the lack of acknowledgement.[17] In 2001, The Wall Street Journal reported that "New York literary circles are buzzing with vitriol over Sen. Clinton's refusal, so far, to share credit with any writer who helps on her book."[18] Later, in a 2002 article for The Writer's Chronicle,[19] Barbara Feinman Todd (now using her married name) related that the project with Clinton had gone smoothly, producing drafts in a round-robin style. Feinman agrees that Clinton was involved with the project, but also states that, "Like any first lady, Mrs. Clinton had an extremely hectic schedule and writing a book without assistance would have been logistically impossible." Feinman reiterates that her only objection to the whole process was the lack of any acknowledgement. A 2005 Georgetown University web page bio for Barbara Feinman Todd states that It Takes a Village was one of "several high-profile books" that she has "assisted, as editor, writer and researcher."[20] Feinman Todd wrote more about the collaboration in her 2017 memoir Pretend I'm Not Here.[21]

Tenth anniversary edition Edit

In 2006, It Takes a Village was republished as a 10th Anniversary Edition with a new cover design and a new Introduction by the author that reflected on the continued meaning of the book in the Internet era and following the September 11 attacks. It also includes a new Notes section at the end that provides updates for scholarly studies that had been conducted in the intervening ten years. The role of Feinman remains unmentioned.

Clinton did not shy away from the book's conclusions during her post-First Lady political career. As part of her own presidential campaign during 2007 she said "I still believe it takes a village to raise a child."[22] And in her second presidential campaign during 2015 she said "Fundamentally, [Republicans] reject what it takes to build an inclusive economy. It takes an inclusive society. What I once called 'a village' that has a place for everyone."[23]

Picture book Edit

It Takes a Village
Front cover
AuthorHillary Rodham Clinton
IllustratorMarla Frazee
GenreChildren's literature
PublisherSimon & Schuster
Publication date
September 12, 2017
Media typePrint (Hardcover)

The year 2017 saw public efforts under way to render It Takes as a picture book, an announcement that was made in February 2017.[24] It was also announced that Marla Frazee, a two-time winner of the Caldecott Medal, would be the illustrator for the picture book; Frazee said in a statement, "I am deeply honored to help bring Hillary Clinton's life's work and devotion to public service, which has inspired me and millions of others, to children and those who love them."[24] As with the original book, any net proceeds from the picture book would go to charity.[24]

In fact Clinton had entertained the notion of doing this for a number of years, and worked on it with Frazee during her 2016 presidential election campaign.[25] The result was published on September 12, 2017, also the same day of publication as that for her account of her devastating loss in that election, What Happened.[26][25]

The book is aimed at preschool-aged children, although a few messages are more likely understood by adults, and contains some 117 words.[25] The Washington Post characterized the work thusly: "It captures perfectly Clinton's vision of a multicultural America working toward a constructive goal. So hopeful and forward-looking, the book might even be called 'What Didn't Happen.'"[25]

A review of the book in the industry publication Shelf Awareness said that the picture book took a somewhat different perspective from the original, focusing more on the actions of children than of adults.[27] The review especially praised the art work, saying that "As with all of her works, Frazee's illustrations explode with life ... Her pencil-and-watercolor art is vibrant and action-packed, the story told entirely through her illustrations of the everyday ups and downs of the people working together to create something new and beautiful."[27]

In popular culture Edit

The book is parodied in Tim Wilson's 1999 song "It Takes a Village to Raise a Nut".

References Edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f Mary B. W. Tabor (April 22, 1995). "Meet Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Traditional First Lady". The New York Times. Retrieved November 2, 2007.
  2. ^ "Books by Eleanor Roosevelt". The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project. George Washington University. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Carvajal, Doreen (January 14, 1996). "On Book Tour, Mrs. Clinton Defends Herself". The New York Times. Retrieved July 28, 2007.
  4. ^ Nadine Brozan (January 17, 1996). "Chronicle". The New York Times. Retrieved July 28, 2007.
  5. ^ Todd S. Purdum (January 17, 1996). "With Resolve, First Lady Lays Out Defense". The New York Times. Retrieved July 28, 2007.
  6. ^ See results of this New York Times archive search. On list January 28 through May 26, 1996. At number one February 4, 11 and 18.
  7. ^ Roxanne Roberts (October 4, 2000). "White House Welcome". The Washington Post.
  8. ^ "Bob Dole's Acceptance Speech". NewsHour. August 15, 1996. Archived from the original on August 18, 2007. Retrieved July 28, 2007.
  9. ^ Amanda Marcotte (June 18, 2015). "Hillary Clinton Defies Right-Wing Critics, Endorses Universal Pre-K". Slate.
  10. ^ Vankin, Jonathan (October 25, 2016). "Why Did Hillary Clinton Win a Grammy Award?". Heavy. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  11. ^ It Takes a Village (Hardcover). 1994. ISBN 978-0590465731.
  12. ^ a b From "Proverb: It Takes a Whole Village to Raise a Child". H-Africa (a member of H-Net's consortium of scholarly lists). Archived from the original on June 10, 2007. Retrieved December 1, 2007.
  13. ^ a b c Goldberg, Joel (July 30, 2016). "It Takes A Village To Determine The Origins Of An African Proverb". NPR. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  14. ^ Tim Cornwell (June 5, 2003). "I wanted to wring the President's neck". The Scotsman. Retrieved December 2, 2007.
  15. ^ Tomas Kellner (July 7, 2003). "Under Cover". Forbes. Archived from the original on December 6, 2003. Retrieved December 2, 2007.
  16. ^ It Takes a Village, p. 319.
  17. ^ Susan Threadgill (June 1999). "Who's Who". The Washington Monthly. Vol. 31, no. 6. Archived from the original on June 10, 2007. Retrieved December 2, 2007.
  18. ^ Al Hunt (April 7, 2001). "A Tale of Two Clintons". The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page. Retrieved December 2, 2007.
  19. ^ Barbara Feinman Todd (September 2002). "Ghost Writing". The Writer's Chronicle. Retrieved December 2, 2007.
  20. ^ "Barbara Feinman Todd, M.A." Georgetown University. February 14, 2005. Archived from the original on February 14, 2005. Retrieved December 2, 2007.
  21. ^ Kevin Canfield (February 11, 2017). "Ghostwriter for Hillary Clinton, Carl Bernstein tells stories of betrayal in memoir". Kansas City Star.
  22. ^ "Democrats embrace League's 10-point plan, promise change". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. July 28, 2007. Retrieved July 28, 2007.[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ "Transcript: Read the Full Text of Hillary Clinton's Campaign Launch Speech". Time. June 13, 2015.
  24. ^ a b c "Hillary Clinton's 'It Takes a Village' repackaged for kids". The Times of India. Press Trust of India. February 9, 2017. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  25. ^ a b c d Krug, Nora (September 7, 2017). "Hillary Clinton has a new children's book. You may recognize its message". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 22, 2018.
  26. ^ Siu, Diamond Naga (July 27, 2017). "Hillary Clinton to open up about the 2016 election in new book titled 'What Happened'". Politico. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  27. ^ a b "It Takes a Village by Hillary Rodham Clinton, illus. by Marla Frazee". Shelf Awareness. Retrieved April 21, 2018.

External links Edit