"More than simply a window into the world of younger slaves, Stolen Childhood offers an informed and moving narrative that assists us in understanding the people and the system that shaped many of the social patterns in American life." -- Quarterly Black Review Booktalk
"This powerful book should be read by everyone interested in understanding American character and culture at its most basic level. It is a significant contribution to the growing body of international works on the history of childhood." -- Paedagogica Historica
"... evocative new study about children in slavery.... movingly written, carefully documented... King's provocative thesis concerning the deliberate and long-lasting race- and caste-linked theft of childhood in the antebellum United States should give us pause and encourage us to think more deeply about the heritage of abuse and deprivation and its effects through many generations." -- Adele Logan Alexander, Washington Post Book World
"... the slaves' voices emerge strongly and often poignantly... " -- New York Times Book Review
"With moral authority and appreciation for the telling anecdote, Wilma King takes up the neglected story of black slave children in the American South."Â -- Mary Warner Marien, The Christian Science Monitor
"This is a remarkably well researched volume." -- Journal of American History
"King's deeply researched, well-written, passionate study places children and young adults at center stage in the North American slave experience." -- Choice
"... King provides a jarring snapshot of children living in bondage. This compellingly written work is a testament to the strength and resilience of the children and their parents, who taught them necessary survival skills, self-respect, and love, despite nightmarish existences." -- Booklist
"... King has here remapped old and familiar terrain to lay out promising directions for fresh inquiry. Highly recommended... " -- Library Journal
Wilma King sheds light on a tragic aspect of slavery in the United States -- the wretched lives of the millions of children enslaved in the nineteenth-century South. King follows the slave child's experience through work, play, education, socialization, resistance to slavery, and the transition to freedom.
King, a historian at Michigan State University, has researched the lives of children growing up in slavery during the last century. Her sources include personal papers and U.S. government interviews with former slaves, all compiled in the 1930s. Children saw the carefree joys of their younger days fade as the grim boundaries of their lives became apparent. The humiliation and punishment of slaves was often inflicted publicly--a father whipped in front of his son as a salutary lesson to both the boy and the man. Parents could be sold off, losing all contact with their children. King relates how the songs and games of the children came to incorporate this harsh reality.