The Hundred Languages of Children

The Reggio Emilia Experience in Transformation, 3rd Edition

by Carolyn Edwards, Lella Gandini, and George Forman, Editors


Reggio Emilia is a fast-growing Italian city located in a fertile agricultural region, famous for Reggiano parmesan cheese and everyday quality of life. Over the last 50 years, however, Reggio Emilia has developed another claim to fame: its city-run early childhood program is recognized and acclaimed as one of the best systems of early education in the world.

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Cover image for The Hundred Languages of Children

December 2011


Pages 411
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Current Events and Issues/Education
  Psychology/Child and Teen
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Why does the city of Reggio Emilia in northern Italy feature one of the best public systems of early education in the world? This book documents the comprehensive and innovative approach that utilizes the "hundred languages of children" to support their well-being and foster their intellectual development.

Educators in Reggio Emilia, Italy, use a distinctive innovative approach that supports children's well-being and fosters their intellectual development through a systematic focus on symbolic representation. From birth through age six, young children are encouraged to explore their environment and express their understanding through many modes of expression or "languages," including verbal communication, movement, drawing, painting, sculpture, shadow play, collage, and music. This organic strategy has been shown to be highly effective, as the children in Reggio Emilia display surprising examples of symbolic skill and creativity.

This book describes how the world-renowned preschool services and accompanying practical strategies for children under six in Reggio Emilia have evolved in response to the community's demographic and political transformations, and to generational changes in both the educators and the parents of the children. The authors provide the reader with a comprehensive introduction to the Reggio Emilia experience, and address three of the most important central themes of the work in Reggio in detail: teaching and learning through relationships; the hundred languages of children, and how this concept has evolved; and integrating documentation into the process of observing, reflecting, and communicating.


  • Contributions from leaders from Reggio Emilia and international scholars from Europe and North America, including Loris Malaguzzi, Carlina Rinaldi, Vea Vecchi, Howard Gardner, Gunilla Dahlberg, and others
  • Illustrated with photographs of the teachers and children in the Reggio Emilia schools as well as drawings from the children of the Reggio Emilia preschools
  • A bibliography with references and sources follows each chapter
  • An index provides access to names, concepts, and themes discussed across many of the different chapters


  • Provides resources that allow readers to grasp the changes in the Reggio system and the way teachers, studio teachers, and pedagogical coordinators work today
  • Presents the voices of the Italian educators themselves, with great care taken to translate their exact words into readable and accessible English
  • Comprehensively explains how classroom practice must be situated within a supportive organizational structure to create optimal quality in early childhood education
Author Info

Carolyn Edwards is a Willa Cather professor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, with joint appointments in the Departments of Psychology and Child, Youth, and Family Studies. She is an author or editor of The Diary of Laura: Perspectives on a Reggio Emilia Diary; Extending the Dance in Infant & Toddler Caregiving: Enhancing Attachment & Relationships; and Bambini: The Italian Approach to Infant/Toddler Care. Edwards received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance in 2010.

Lella Gandini is Reggio Children liaison in the United States for the Dissemination of the Reggio Emilia Approach and associate editor of innovations in Early Education: The International Reggio Exchange. She is an author or editor of Beautiful Stuff: Learning with Found Materials; Bambini: The Italian Approach to Infant/Toddler Care; In the Spirit of the Studio: Learning from the Atelier of Reggio Emilia; and Insights and Inspirations from Reggio Emilia: Stories of Teachers and Children from North America. Gandini received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance in 2004.

George Forman is professor emeritus of education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and president of Videatives, Inc. He is an author of Constructive Play: Applying Piaget in the Classroom; The Child's Construction of Knowledge; and Cognitive Development: A Life Span Perspective; an editor of Constructivism in the Computer Age; and a producer of the videos The Amusement Park for Birds; The Long Jump; and Jed Draws His Bicycle: A Case of Drawing to Learn. Forman is a past president of the Jean Piaget Society.



"An impressive collection of essays on the Reggio system. . . . This book is highly recommended, without qualification, to a wide readership."Choice

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