cover image The Stolen Year: How Covid Changed Children’s Lives, and Where We Go Now

The Stolen Year: How Covid Changed Children’s Lives, and Where We Go Now

Anya Kamenetz. PublicAffairs, $29 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5417-0098-7

Journalist Kamenetz (Generation Debt) delivers a compassionate study of how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted schoolchildren and their families. Drawing on interviews with children and parents across the U.S. and her own experiences as the mother of two young daughters, Kamenetz documents “high levels of chronic absence and disengagement from school” following the shift to remote learning in 2020, and reports that former secretary of education Betsy DeVos “diverted a disproportionate share of federal relief funds to private schools” during the pandemic, while resisting calls for the Department of Education to take the lead in directing schools how to safely reopen. Noting that U.S. public schools were closed for more than twice as long as those in the U.K. and China, Kamenetz cites evidence that the absence of America’s “most broadly accessible welfare institutions” caused food insecurity to double, even as many children gained weight due to a lack of exercise. She also claims that student-organized protests over the murder of George Floyd by police provided “catharsis, after a season of confinement and monotony,” and sketches how parents and teachers can foster children’s “posttraumatic growth.” Striking an expert balance between the big picture and intimate profiles of students, teachers, parents, and school officials, this is an astute and vital first draft of history. (Aug.)