Have you ever wondered what really goes on at your child’s day-care center after you say good-bye? Harriet Brown did. To satisfy her curiosity, she spent an entire year observing Red Caboose, a center in Madison, Wisconsin. This engaging and thought-provoking book is the story of that year.
In her beautifully written personal account, journalist and mother Brown takes us behind the scenes at a day-care center that works. At Red Caboose, one of the oldest independent centers in the country, we meet teachers who have worked with young children for more than twenty years. We watch the child-care union and parents struggle to negotiate a contract without ripping apart the fabric of trust and love that holds the Red Caboose community together.
We look at the center’s finances, to see what keeps Red Caboose going at a time when other good centers are disappearing. Best of all, we get to know the children, families, and teachers of Red Caboose—their struggles, their sorrows, their triumphs.
Started twenty-five years ago by a group of idealistic parents, the center has not only survived but thrived through some pretty tough times. In the world of day care, Red Caboose is a special place, a model for what child care in this country could and should be: not just babysitting, not just a service to working parents, but a benefit for children, families, teachers, and the community at large.
Brown sets her rich and engaging stories in the greater political and social context of our time. Why is so much child care bad? Why should working Americans worry about the link between welfare reform and child care? What can we learn from the history of child care?
This book is a must-read for parents, educators, and anyone who enjoys first-rate writing and dead-on insight into the lives of our youngest children and those who care for them.
“[Brown’s] writing is beautiful and her scholarship sound. Students considering day-care careers, day-care professionals, and concerned parents will gain insight by reading this provocative book, as will anyone who cares about the future of young children in this country.”—Choice
“I admire enormously the ambition of this book—its eagle-eyed witness and engrossing detail, plus the social importance of the project. I wish there were in the world more books like it.”—Lorrie Moore, author of Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?
“The Good-bye Window is a fascinating peek into the secret world of children. With the poignancy of Anne LaMott, and the reportorial grace of Tracy Kidder, Harriet Brown has written a terrific and worthwhile book.”—Meg Wolitzer, author of This Is Your Life
“Harriet Brown’s well-told story of the Red Caboose child-care center should be read by teachers and parents, but also by every legislator and politician in the land. Only a writer as good as Ms. Brown could display the dramatic complexities of a school community in which the youngest members enter crawling and emerge a few years later as articulate, empathetic, and well-socialized individuals, ready for the ‘real world.’”—Vivian Gussin Paley, author of The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter