When I first taught child development in 1975, I used a brand new textbook that provided students with an excellent overview of the field. In the 25 years since, researchers have made incredible progress in understanding children's development (and I'm proud to have been among those contributing). Unfortunately, authors have been overly enthusiastic about the emerging knowledge, and textbooks have grown ever larger as more and more complex findings are added. The book I used in 1975 described the field in a concise 471 pages in the original edition but in 652 pages in the fifth edition, which appeared in 1999. As this and other excellent texts grew, my students complained to me that, with so much information in the book, they had difficulty separating the wheat from the chaff (an appropriate metaphor since I was teaching in the Midwestern United States). Greater length and complexity were only part of the problem. Most textbook authors avoid effective pedagogy like the plague. They (along with many instructors) seem to believe that students should learn on their own, without needing instructional aids. As a consequence, although child development texts still present a valuable overview of the field, they are not effective tools for student learning. A few years ago, I decided that a new book was needed--one that would meet instructors' needs for a solid overview of the field and one that would emphasize effective pedagogy designed to enhance students' learning.Childrenis my effort to meet these goals. This book is traditional in its organization: I begin with theories and methods, move to biological bases of child development, then cover four major phases in children's lives--starting with infancy and ending with adolescence. Where this book begins to differ from the competition is length: it has about 20 percent fewer pages than most competing texts. To make the truly important child development work stand out for students, I have deliberately omitted some topics and described others relatively briefly. But the focus on a student-friendly book is really evident in the way I've structured the entire book to help students learn about child development. One key aspect of the book is an emphasis on fundamental themes in child-development research. In Chapter 1, I describe four critical themes that pervade child-development research: Early development is related to later development, but not perfectly. Development is always jointly influenced by heredity and environment. Children help determine their own development. Development in different domains is connected. Then, throughout the book I use these themes to provide a solid foundation for students to understand different theories and the many facts of child development. The themes appear in review questions throughout the chapters and are highlighted in an "In Perspective" feature that appears at the end of each major phase of development (e.g., the preschool years, adolescence). The themes provide students with familiar anchors to use as they learn about children. I've also organized the chapters to make it easy for students to understand children and their development. Each chapter consists of two to five modules that provide a clear and well-defined organization to the chapter. Each module begins with a set of learning objectives and a vignette that introduces the topic to be covered. Within each module, all figures, tables, and photos are fully integrated, eliminating the need for students to search for a graphic. Similarly, boxlike feature material that is set off in other textbooks is fully integrated with the main text and identified by a distinctive icon, reflecting its importance in students' overall reading. Each module ends with several questions designed to help students cheek their understanding of the major ideas in the module. The end of each chapter includes sevRobert V. Kail is the author of 'Children', published 2002 under ISBN 9780130857637 and ISBN 0130857637.