The Routledge Companion to Children's Literature

The Routledge Companion to Children's Literature

The Routledge Companion to Children's Literature

The Routledge Companion to Children's Literature

Synopsis

The Routledge Companion to Children's Literature is a vibrant and authoritative exploration of children's literature in all its manifestations. It features a series of essays written by expert contributors who provide an illuminating examination of why children's literature is the way it is. Topics covered include:

  • the history and development of children's literature
  • various theoretical approaches used to explore the texts, including narratological methods
  • questions of gender and sexuality along with issues of race and ethnicity
  • realism and fantasy as two prevailing modes of story-telling
  • picture books, comics and graphic novels as well as 'young adult' fiction and the 'crossover' novel
  • media adaptations and neglected areas of children's literature.

The Routledge Companion to Children's Literature contains suggestions for further reading throughout plus a helpful timeline and a substantial glossary of key terms and names, both established and more cutting-edge. This is a comprehensive and up-to-date guide to an increasingly complex and popular discipline.

Excerpt

Children’s Literature Studies has seen remarkable progress since the 1980s, when it was very much a minority interest. A lecturer in higher education might indulge his or her passion for Little Women in a course about women’s writing, or slip Tolkien into a course on fantasy, but generally such occurrences were few, and they were certainly not labelled ‘children’s literature’. Other writers who escaped this labelling – Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling, for instance – did so precisely because, it was argued, they were not really children’s writers.

In the past 20 years, this situation has changed dramatically. Children’s Literature Studies has reinvented itself, in some places to the extent of casting off its literary moorings and ‘going solo’ as ‘Childhood’ or ‘Child’ Studies. Such courses extend their remit, not only to an examination of other children’s artefacts (toys, films, TV, games), but even further afield, looking more widely at the child’s position in the world, domestically, politically and economically. However, many of these courses seem to founder because they fail to consider what lies at the heart of their project: the child itself. This ‘being’ can be reduced to a psychological profile or even to its biological and anatomical features, but such depictions fail to capture the fact that children exist only within particular sociocultural contexts, and these might envisage children as innocent and godlike, or as innately evil, or simply as pint-sized adults. The artefacts produced for such children will vary accordingly. Moreover, children, in being part of this sociocultural world, will themselves manipulate and refashion it (its artefacts and language) – as collectors of children’s lore and language have found.

This particular volume, however, keeps children’s books central, although the wider issues raised above will surface where relevant. But it certainly does not see the book as exclusive; children’s literature’s links with other media are explored (Chapters 9 and 10), as are questions about the relative neglect of certain literary forms, such as poetry and drama, and of children’s own cultural productions (Chapter 11). It should also be noted that this volume approaches the children’s book from a literary and cultural studies perspective, so it omits many of the debates more central to those in education or librarianship (e.g. Thwaite, 1972; Meeket al., 1977). Thus, there is little on literacy, or on how actual child readers respond to texts; or, indeed, on the publishing industry or the history of book production. In short, this book reflects the relocation of courses on children’s . . .

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