It Takes a Village

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It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us
Clinton Village.jpg
Front cover
Author Hillary Rodham Clinton
Language English
Publisher Simon & Schuster
Publication date
January 1, 1996
Media type Hardcover
Pages 352
ISBN 1-4165-4064-4
OCLC 76838574
305.23/10973 22
LC Class HQ792.U5 C57 2006
Followed by Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids' Letters to the First Pets (1998)

It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us is a book published in 1996 by First Lady of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton. In it, Clinton presents her vision for the children of America. She focuses on the impact individuals and groups outside the family have, for better or worse, on a child's well-being, and advocates a society which meets all of a child's needs.

The book was written with uncredited ghostwriter Barbara Feinman.


In January 1996, Clinton went on a ten-city book tour and made numerous television appearances to promote the book,[1] although she was frequently hit with questions about her involvement in the Whitewater and Travelgate controversies.[2][3] Her efforts were rewarded; the book spent 18 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List during 1996 including three weeks at number one.[4] By 2000 it had sold 450,000 copies in hardcover and another 200,000 in paperback.[5]

The theme of the book, at least as perceived from its title, aroused immediate opposition within the United States. A well known instance of this occurred during the 1996 presidential election when, during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Republican Party nominee Bob Dole said: "... with all due respect, I am here to tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child."[6] Criticism of Clinton's notion would continue to be made by American conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh, Andrea Tantaros, and Jonah Goldberg through the next two decades.[7]

In 1997, Clinton received a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for her audio recording of the book.[8]

The book is parodied in Tim Wilson's 1999 song "It Takes a Village to Raise a Nut". In 2005, Senator Rick Santorum wrote a rebuke to the book, It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good.

In 2006, It Takes a Village was republished as a 10th Anniversary Edition with a new cover design and an introduction by the author. Clinton did not shy away from its conclusions; during her own presidential campaign during 2007 she said "I still believe it takes a village to raise a child."[9] And during her second presidential campaign during 2015 she said "Fundamentally, [Republicans] reject what it takes to build an inclusive economy. It takes an inclusive society. What I once called 'a village' that has a place for everyone."[10]


  • Introduction
  • It Takes a Village
  • No Family Is an Island
  • Every Child Needs a Champion
  • The Bell Curve Is a Curve Ball
  • Kids Don't Come with Instructions
  • The World Is in a Hurry, Children Are Not
  • An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Intensive Care
  • Security Takes More Than a Blanket
  • The Best Tool You Can Give Your Child Is a Shovel
  • Children Are Born Believers
  • Childhood Can Be a Service Academy
  • Kids Are an Equal Employment Opportunity
  • Child Care Is Not a Spectator Sport
  • Education = Expectations
  • Seeing Is Believing
  • Every Business Is a Family Business
  • Children Are Citizens Too
  • Let Us Build a Village Worthy of Our Children


The book emphasizes the shared responsibility that society has for successfully raising children, by looking at a number of angles as indicated in the chapter titles noted above. Clinton describes herself in the book as a Moderate, which is evidenced by a combination of advocating for government-driven social reforms while also espousing conservative values.

Clinton notes in the book many institutions responsible in some way for raising children, including: direct family, grandparents, neighbors, teachers, ministers, doctors, employers, politicians, nonprofits, faith communities, businesses, and international governmental groups.

Some of the goals and institutions that Clinton advocates for in the book include: the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, Community Policing, the Brady Bill, Amber Alerts, immunizations, State Children's Health Insurance Program, financial regulation, expanded Child Tax Credits, Minimum Wage increases, Universal health care, personal responsibility, uniforms in schools, Goals 2000 academic framework, music warning labels, sexual abstinence, Plan B contraception, family planning, and marriage.

Ghostwriter controversy[edit]

Clinton has been criticized for not giving credit to a ghostwriter in connection with It Takes a Village. The majority of the book was reportedly written by ghostwriter Barbara Feinman.[11] When the book was first announced in April 1995, The New York Times reported publisher Simon & Schuster as saying "The book will actually be written by Barbara Feinman, a journalism professor at Georgetown University in Washington. Ms. Feinman will conduct a series of interviews with Mrs. Clinton, who will help edit the resulting text."[12]

Feinman spent seven months on the project and was paid $120,000 for her work.[13] Feinman, however, was not mentioned anywhere in the book. Clinton's acknowledgment section began: "It takes a village to bring a book into the world, as everyone who has written one knows. Many people have helped me to complete this one, sometimes without even knowing it. They are so numerous that I will not even attempt to acknowledge them individually, for fear that I might leave one out."[14] During her promotional tour for the book, Clinton said, "I actually wrote the book ... I had to write my own book because I want to stand by every word."[2] Clinton stated that Feinman assisted in interviews and did some editorial drafting of "connecting paragraphs", while Clinton herself wrote the final manuscript in longhand.[2]

This led Feinman to complain at the time to Capitol Style magazine over the lack of acknowledgement.[15] In 2001, The Wall Street Journal reported that "New York literary circles are buzzing with vitriol over Sen. Clinton's refusal, so far, to share credit with any writer who helps on her book."[16] Later, in a 2002 article for The Writer's Chronicle,[17] Barbara Feinman Todd (now using her married name) related that the project with Clinton had gone smoothly, producing drafts in a round-robin style. Feinman agrees that Clinton was involved with the project, but also states that, "Like any first lady, Mrs. Clinton had an extremely hectic schedule and writing a book without assistance would have been logistically impossible." Feinman reiterates that her only objection to the whole process was the lack of any acknowledgement. A 2005 Georgetown University web page bio for Barbara Feinman Todd states that It Takes a Village was one of "several high-profile books" that she has "assisted, as editor, writer and researcher."[18] Feinman Todd wrote more about the collaboration in her 2017 memoir "Pretend I'm Not Here".[19]


  1. ^ Nadine Brozan (January 17, 1996). "Chronicle". The New York Times. Retrieved July 28, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c Carvajal, Doreen (January 14, 1996). "On Book Tour, Mrs. Clinton Defends Herself". The New York Times. Retrieved July 28, 2007. 
  3. ^ Todd S. Purdum (January 17, 1996). "With Resolve, First Lady Lays Out Defense". The New York Times. Retrieved July 28, 2007. 
  4. ^ See results of this New York Times archive search. On list January 28 through May 26, 1996. At number one February 4, 11 and 18.
  5. ^ Roxanne Roberts (October 4, 2000). "White House Welcome". The Washington Post. 
  6. ^ "Bob Dole's Acceptance Speech". NewsHour. August 15, 1996. Retrieved July 28, 2007. 
  7. ^ Amanda Marcotte (June 18, 2015). "Hillary Clinton Defies Right-Wing Critics, Endorses Universal Pre-K". Slate. 
  8. ^ Vankin, Jonathan (October 25, 2016). "Why Did Hillary Clinton Win a Grammy Award?". Heavy. Retrieved June 14, 2017. 
  9. ^ "Democrats embrace League's 10-point plan, promise change". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. July 28, 2007. Retrieved July 28, 2007. 
  10. ^ "Transcript: Read the Full Text of Hillary Clinton's Campaign Launch Speech". Time. June 13, 2015. 
  11. ^ Tim Cornwell (June 5, 2003). "I wanted to wring the President's neck". The Scotsman. Retrieved December 2, 2007. 
  12. ^ Mary B. W. Tabor (April 22, 1995). "Meet Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Traditional First Lady". The New York Times. Retrieved November 2, 2007. 
  13. ^ Tomas Kellner (July 7, 2003). "Under Cover". Forbes. Retrieved December 2, 2007. 
  14. ^ It Takes a Village, p. 319.
  15. ^ Susan Threadgill (June 1999). "Who's Who". The Washington Monthly. 31 (6). Retrieved December 2, 2007. 
  16. ^ Al Hunt (April 7, 2001). "A Tale of Two Clintons". The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page. Retrieved December 2, 2007. 
  17. ^ Barbara Feinman Todd (September 2002). "Ghost Writing". The Writer's Chronicle. Retrieved December 2, 2007. 
  18. ^ "Barbara Feinman Todd, M.A.". Georgetown University. February 14, 2005. Archived from the original on February 14, 2005. Retrieved December 2, 2007. 
  19. ^ Kevin Canfield (February 11, 2017). "Ghostwriter for Hillary Clinton, Carl Bernstein tells stories of betrayal in memoir". Kansas City Star. 

External links[edit]