Nationally and globally, childhood has become a crucial topic of sociopolitical debates and policy initiatives. "Understanding Childhood" offers a fresh look at how childhood has changed in recent years. It reveals how children's needs and experiences have achieved a new visibility in wider social and political discourse. Despite the privileges afforded to children in the West, the typical childhood experience there is no longer seen as an ideal model for other parts of the globe. Recent reports and policy concerns suggest that growing up in the West may be marked by the commercialization of childhood, which can lead to unhappiness, poor health, loss of innocence, and a general lack of well-being. The contributors here introduce readers to the cross-disciplinary field of childhood studies and offer an exciting and unique exploration of childhood as a concept, in the process engaging with a range of contemporary issues that shape our ideas of childhood both as an ideal and as a lived experience. Exploring childhood from a variety of research perspectives and traditions, "Understanding Childhood" also serves as a powerful introduction to careers in childhood service.