Telling Children's Stories: Narrative Theory and Children's Literature

Telling Children's Stories: Narrative Theory and Children's Literature

Telling Children's Stories: Narrative Theory and Children's Literature

Telling Children's Stories: Narrative Theory and Children's Literature


The most accessible approach yet to children's literature and narrative theory, Telling Children's Stories is a comprehensive collection of never-before-published essays by an international slate of scholars that offers a broad yet in-depth assessment of narrative strategies unique to children's literature. The volume is divided into four interrelated sections: "Genre Templates and Transformations," "Approaches to the Picture Book," "Narrators and Implied Readers," and "Narrative Time." Mike Cadden's introduction considers the links between the various essays and topics, as well as their connections with such issues as metafiction, narrative ethics, focalization, and plotting. Ranging in focus from picture books to novels such as To Kill a Mockingbird, from detective fiction for children to historical tales, from new works such as the Lemony Snicket series to classics like Tom's Midnight Garden, these essays explore notions of montage and metaphor, perspective and subjectivity, identification and time. Together, they comprise a resource that will interest and instruct scholars of narrative theory and children's literature, and that will become critically important to the understanding and development of both fields.


To introduce this collection of essays on narrative theory and children’s literature, I’d like your indulgence as I discuss one area of narrative theory that takes on different implications when discussed in the context of children’s literature: the peritext. It’s my way of justifying the intersection of narratology and literature for the young right from the start. The second part of the introduction is more conventional: an explanation of the development of the study of children’s literature as an academic field, the development of its literary theory, and the relatively recent embrace of narratology. You’ll find particular introductions to the collected essays themselves at the beginning of each part.

The Peritext and Children’s Literature

“This is […] the part where the author tells why the book exists and why the reader might want to read it. And you can skip it if you’re in a hurry.”—Laura Schlitz.

These are the first words of the foreword to the 2008 Newbery Medal-winning book. It seems like a good way to introduce a book about narrative theory and children’s literature. An editor’s introduction to any book about narrative approaches should begin with some self-consciousness about two separate matters: the role of the peritext and the nature of the implied reader. In fact both matters are discussed in this volume by several essayists.

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