Amy, Wendy, and Beth, the 1980 recipient of the New York Academy of Sciences Edward Sapir Award, is a lively in-depth study of how three young children from an urban working-class community learned language under everyday conditions. It is a sensitive portrayal of the children and their families and offers an innovative approach to the study of language development and social class.
A major conclusion of the study is that the linguistic abilities of working-class children are consistent with previous cross-cultural accounts of the development of communicational skills and, as such, lend no support to past claims that children from the lower classes are linguistically deprived. Instead, Amy, Wendy, and Beth emerge as able and enthusiastic language learners; their families, as caring and competent partners in the language socialization process.
Sound scholarship and original findings about a hitherto neglected population of children lend special value to this work not only for scholars in psychology, linguistics, and anthropology, but for educators and policymakers as well.