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“Rachel and Her Children” a Book by Jonathan Kozol Essay (Book Review)


The Most Appealing Ideas

In his book entitled Rachel and Her Children, Jonathan Kozol focused on the problem of homelessness that is one of the persisting current challenges in the United States. In particular, the author provided some statistical data about the rates of homelessness in the country, the number of people living in the streets, and their demographics. Alongside these facts, Kozol presented multiple personal stories of homeless families and individuals told from the first person.

The author’s idea to interview homeless individuals and listen to what they have to say is outstanding. Having spoken to these people and written down their stories for everyone to read, the author provided one of the most vulnerable populations in the United States with a voice.

Homeless people who are usually viewed as faceless and invisible groups have names and backgrounds in Kozol’s book. In that way, the author managed to present a problem that has been there for decades from a new angle. He spoke with the people who never get to tell anyone how they feel and what they have been through. The author’s decision to explore the lives and issues of homeless people is truly remarkable from the humanitarian and social perspectives.

With his book, Kozol might have inspired many researchers to focus on this problem and study it in order to find solutions for the problem of homelessness. As it can be seen from the book, individual people and families can be driven to live in the streets due to various reasons. Not all of the causes of homelessness can be prevented. However, it is possible that the author’s idea to publish the stories of homeless people could at least help address the challenges they face while doing their best to survive in the streets.

The Implications of the Ideas in the Book for Me as an Educator

First of all, discussing the implications of the author’s ideas for me as an educator, it is important to note that according to the statistical data presented by Kozol, children represent about a half of the homeless population. This data stands for a very large number of children living beyond the poverty threshold, in the streets, in horrible conditions, and without any opportunities for education. In fact, the author noticed that the discussion of the growth of the homeless population frequently intertwines with the discussions of the rates of illiteracy in the United States.

Moreover, as it can be seen from the stories presented in the book, many homeless families tend to break apart due to the parents’ inability to support their children. As a result, children are taken away from such families to be put in foster care or placed for adoption. In that way, the problem of homelessness in the country gives rise to another issue – the increasing numbers of children growing up without parents.

As an educator, I am well aware of the importance of a thorough care and a loving environment for a child throughout their early years and teen age. In that way, reading this book, I could see what the problem of homelessness represents for the new generations and for the future of our country. It looks like hundreds of thousands of children will grow up in poverty, obtain no education, have little to no chance of finding employment in adult life, and will continue living in the streets or choose a criminal path as a way to make a living. These conclusions are heartbreaking but, unfortunately, very realistic and logical for the contemporary realities in the United States.

The Ideas That I Challenge

In his book, Kozol expressed a variety of ideas intending to challenge the traditional and widely applied stereotypes concerning homeless people. Publishing the stories of homeless families living in big cities, the author showed that, in many cases, their situations resulted from the loss of jobs and the inability to afford rent. The stories collected for the book date back to the 1980s. However, it can be easily noticed that today, three decades later, the situation remained the same, so the book by Kozol is still relevant.

There are several ideas in the book that I would like to challenge. First of all, writing about the problems and causes of homelessness, the author proposes various collective solutions that could potentially help address the situation, in his opinion. However, at the same time, the author is very critical of the American government for being too slow in working out ways to resolve the issues or for not doing enough. As a result, it is unclear whether or not the author believes that the government should help handle the situation. Moreover, to my mind, without the proper support from the government of some local political powers, the issue of this scale cannot be addressed properly.

In addition, I would like to notice that while focusing on the exploration of individual stories of homeless people, the author often skipped the details of what circumstances led them to live in the streets. While, of course, there are worthy homeless individuals, who were forced to the streets by unfortunate events, this hardly means that all the estimated millions of such people have the same situation and cannot be blamed for their current living conditions.

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IvyPanda. (2020, November 3). "Rachel and Her Children" a Book by Jonathan Kozol. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/rachel-and-her-children-a-book-by-jonathan-kozol/

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""Rachel and Her Children" a Book by Jonathan Kozol." IvyPanda, 3 Nov. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/rachel-and-her-children-a-book-by-jonathan-kozol/.

1. IvyPanda. ""Rachel and Her Children" a Book by Jonathan Kozol." November 3, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/rachel-and-her-children-a-book-by-jonathan-kozol/.


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IvyPanda. ""Rachel and Her Children" a Book by Jonathan Kozol." November 3, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/rachel-and-her-children-a-book-by-jonathan-kozol/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. ""Rachel and Her Children" a Book by Jonathan Kozol." November 3, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/rachel-and-her-children-a-book-by-jonathan-kozol/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) '"Rachel and Her Children" a Book by Jonathan Kozol'. 3 November.

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