Coming Of Age The RITE Way: Youth & Community Development through Rites of Passage

book_03 “Coming of Age the Rite Way”

Coming of Age the RITE Way: Youth & Community Development through Rites of Passage addresses the absence of community-oriented rites of passage. This book is distinguished from others in that it combines almost fifty years of scholarship and practice to examine the concepts of rites of passage and sense of community, as it exists in literature and life. It focuses on the reciprocal relationship between rites of passage and sense of community and ways for it to impact the development of children and the health and adaptability of their community.

This text raises and answers some of the most fundamental questions facing parents, schools and communities; How do we raise our children to be resilient, self-reliant, capable adults who are competent and with compassion that is manifested in civic engagement for social justice? The book sets forth guiding principles and clear methods for putting into practice a whole systems approach to youth development through rites of passage. The approach involves connecting and enhancing environments and building competencies, which promote the positive development of children and youth in their families, in their schools, among their peers in their community and with a strong connection to the natural world. It provides extensive narratives and case studies to illustrate how a framework of rites of passage is used to weave a common language throughout the community and links techniques for youth development with prevention, identification, intervention, and treatment and strengthens the fabric of community support.

Advance Praise for Coming of Age the Rite Way:

“’How are the children?’ the Masai ask in their daily greetings, knowing that the integrity and promise of community is not realized unless youth and their aspiration for an authentic life are embraced by the adult world. In this important and compelling book, David Blumenkrantz skillfully illuminates our current state of fragmented community, where adolescents are a tribe apart. He then brilliantly and gracefully shows us a way home to a very old idea and  practice of the human village, where children and adults belong to one another, and where the question can be rightfully answered that the children are well.”

– Len Fleischer, EdD, Professor of Education, Keene State College; Licensed  Clinical Psychologist

“This groundbreaking book provides profound and practical community  strategies for promoting the positive development of youth. It is a must read for educators, human service providers, and policy makers who aspire to improve community institutions that successfully raise knowledgeable, responsible, caring, contributing youth on their way to happier, more fulfilling lives.”

– Roger P. Weissberg, PhD, University/LAS Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Education, University of Illinois at Chicago and Chief Knowledge Officer, Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)


“Coming of Age the Rite Way will prove to be a significant bridge between scholarship and practice for the fields of education, social work, and youth development. Dr. Blumenkrantz weaves exquisite initiatory tales based on his 50 years of experience in community organizing and youth development. The book sets forth tested navigational aids to guide communities in the creation of unique place-based rites of passage for their young people.”

– Bethe Hagens, PhD, Faculty, School of Public Policy and Administration, Walden

“Coming of Age the Rite Way is a thought provoking and a healing manual that addresses some of the fundamental ills of the world today: In presenting rite of passage and community development as inseparable, the book reveals the profound wisdom that highlights how focusing in our youth is focusing in our communities. This book comes at the right time as a gift to parents and communities everywhere concerned about the future of their youth and longing for tools to fertilize their imagination. This book is a generous contribution to modern consciousness challenged by the decay of human creativity and imagination.”

– Malidoma Patrice Somé, PhD, West African Elder, teacher, and author of Ritual: Power, Healing and Community and Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman

“David Blumenkrantz’s life’s work expressed in this seminal book gives us the  philosophy, the foundation and the tools we need to support our children and young people at a time when they are experiencing so much neglect. We should have inherited this road map from our ancestors, but I am so grateful that David has reinvented it and given it to us as a gift for ours and future generations.”

– Mark Weiss, PhD, Education Director, Operation Respect, former New York City
schools principal

Read More Advance Praise ⟫


Change the Story – Transform the Future

In his book “Change the Story, Change the Future,” (2015) David Korten writes: “When we get our story wrong, we get our future wrong,” (p.1). If the children are indeed our future than the stories about how we educate and help them come of age are the most important stories to get right. Our present reality is the future produced by yesterday’s stories of how we educated and helped our children come of age.

I wrote in Change the Story, Transform the Future ( 2014): “Rite of passage stories can weave together elements of the sacred in secular forms that convey values and ethics essential to the survival of the Earth, all our relations and ourselves. Children are a product of their thoughts and dreams. What they hear and see they remember and become. The stories our children hear today will fuel their dreams for tomorrow. Children are our dreams for the future. How we raise our children will determine the future.”

Community oriented rites of passage are authentic and potent when they are refined by conversations between citizens, youth and adults, that honors and respects the unique culture and setting in which they can be adapted.

Click here for the rest of the story: “It Takes a Whole Child to Raise a Village.

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