Praise for Susan


“Parents will come away from this insightful book more with a sense of how to proceed…the author knows her stuff and is a wonderful storyteller.”

     --Publishers Weekly

"A compassionate guide for parents and educators."



"Playing to Learn" is simply one of the best opinion articles ever to appear in The New York Times, at least during the 50-plus years I've been reading it. It is smart, succinct, powerful and vitally important.

Anybody with authority over elementary school systems, classrooms or children should commit to doing everything needed to put it into effect without delay. Those in authority who don't agree should tell us why, with substantive explanations, not excuses or fingerpointing.

     --Penn Rhodeen, New Haven, Feb. 2, 2010


"For a clue to what young children are really thinking, Susan Engel urges us to set aside our theories for a while as we listen anew to the children and watch them play. With humor and insight she celebrates the child's unique and ever-changing role playing and realities, and she calls upon us to make more sense of our research and teaching by seeing the children not as subjects but as co-discoverers."

     --Vivian Gussin Paley, author of In Mrs. Tully's Room


"Context Is Everything is a fascinating, in-depth look at the mysterious workings of memory, the kind of thing Proust might have tried his hand at if he were less the novelist, more the essayist. It's a tribute to the author's insight that the comparison is not far-fetched--she's after the vital madeleine that brings back the secrets of the past, a quest that is stimulating throughout."

     --W. D. Wetherell, author of North of Now: A Celebration of Country and the Soon to Be Gone

"For me, the most important story this book tells is the way remembering--memory--is dependent on a past others know too; it is the "fact" literature reveals: how many stories are necessary to tell one story."

     --Grace Paley

"Context Is Everything is an innovative look at one of the most important tasks of the human mind: remembering the past. Susan Engel teaches rich lessons about our urge to connect through this process and about the ways that we negotiate a shared past. Most of all, she deftly reveals how memory never really stands alone. If there were only time to read a single book to help us appreciate who we are, this is that book."

     --Elizabeth Loftus, Ph.D., author of The Myth of Repressed Memory

"Context Is Everything shows how memory, though born within the individual mind, takes on its particular shapes and truths through particular social contexts and through its intermingling with the memories and proclivities of others. In reading and re-reading her astute comparison of the kind of memory demanded in court trials and that which is considered necessary in the interchange between patient and therapist, I was entranced by her insight."

     --James McConkey, author of Court of Memory and editor of The Anatomy of Memory

"Susan Engel has written a graceful meditation on the nature of autobiographical narrative and the development of memory. Rich with insight into the personal meanings and social functions of remembering, Context Is Everything explores and illuminates some of the most fundamental aspects of human experience."

     --Daniel L. Schacter, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, author of Searching for Memory: The Brain, The Mind, and The Past


Fascinating and scholarly, the book examines the developmental process of storytelling, which does follow an age/stage pattern."

     --Sandy Anderson, NAPRA ReView, ABA 1995

"In The Stories Children Tell, developmental psychologist Susan Engel examines the methods and meanings of children's narratives. She offers a fascinating look at one of the most exciting areas in modern psychology and education. What is really going on when a child tells or writes a story? Engel's insights into this provocative question are drawn from the latest research findings and dozens of actual children's tales - compelling, funny, sometimes disturbing stories often of unexpected richness and beauty. In The Stories Children Tell, Susan Engel examines the different functions of storytelling, the way the storytelling process changes as children develop, the contributions of parents and peers to storytelling, the different types of stories children tell, the development of a child's narrative voice, and the best ways of nurturing a child's storytelling skills. Throughout these discussions, Engel presents compelling evidence for what is perhaps her most intriguing idea: that in constructing stories, children are constructing themselves. .."