Book Review: "Human Development: A Life-Span View, 8th Edition, by Robert V. Kail and John C. Cavanaugh. Boston, MA. Cengage Learning, 2018"

Author: Reginald Smith

  1. Overview of the Content

The purpose of the book Human Development: A Life-Span View is to understand human development across the entire lifespan. The book provides rich research in the way humans think through experiences encountered in people’s lives with each chapter empowering students, teachers or anyone who reads this book to have a better understanding of their self.

  1. Evaluation of the Book

The authors Robert V. Kail and John C. Cavanaugh did a great job writing this book. Reading this book has helped me understand my own development better. The beginning of the book engages the reader to learn more about his or her self through the different developmental theories presented in chapter one. The authors organized this book carefully and in a way to discuss human development from birth to death. The book is broken down into four parts. Each part represents an aspect of human life.

The book breaks down each section of the book into four parts. There are five chapters to each part. The first part discusses the development of a child from birth to the end of early childhood. The second part of the book discusses the development of a child in elementary school until the end of adolescents. The third part of the book discusses the human development from young adulthood in to the middle adulthood. The last part of the book details the period in life of a person’s late adulthood.

The most noticeable theory used in the book to me was the Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development in Erikson’s Theory (p.13). This is because each part of the book represents a different stage in human development. I believe that the authors wrote this book because they wanted to show a connection to how we function as humans at different stages in life. They elaborate on the circumstances that can impact us positively and negatively though out the book and give concrete examples of how we are affected. The book makes many statements that it backs up through examples and research. An example used is a young person searching for an identity. The book speculates how the child could be so overwhelmed about finding an identity that he may not search for one. Another child is given an identity by his parents. A child can have multiple identities they are searching for or the child may already have identified an identity (p. 291).

The book evenly touches on race and gender in throughout each chapter of the book. In chapter seven the book discusses the connections a child makes with friends and connecting with other people and how they are drawn more to those who are males or females depending on the sex and they will more than likely make friends with those who are the same color they are (p. 244). The book also makes references to how other races coup with stressors such as loss in the family where a White person has a higher rate of pass on if their partner has passed compared to an African American whose rate stays the same (p. 523).

All statements listed in the book are backed up through research and lived experiences from individuals who have lived this experience. The author shows clear indicators of self-reflective awareness through giving quick questions at the end of each section in the chapter to check your knowledge and providing a summary of each section at the end of every chapter. The book is packed full of useful information to understand the way humans behave and gives us the knowledge to understand where the child is in the developmental phase of his or her life.

  1. Recommendation

I recommend anyone who is interested in learning about themselves and their families read this book. This is a powerful teaching tool that tells the story of people’s lives. The book can help shed light on the way other people behave no matter what stage in life a person is at.



McLeod, S. (2018). “Erik Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development”. Simplypsychology. Retrieved October 14th from