Considering Children’s Literature
A Reader
  • Publication Date: February 21, 2008
  • ISBN: 9781551116044 / 1551116049
  • 390 pages; 6" x 9"

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Considering Children’s Literature

A Reader

  • Publication Date: February 21, 2008
  • ISBN: 9781551116044 / 1551116049
  • 390 pages; 6" x 9"

“The study of children’s literature is not just about children and the books said to be for them; it is also about the societies and cultures from which the literature comes, and it is about the assumptions and ideas we hold about children and childhood. For adults, reading children’s literature is ultimately both an act of nostalgia and of self-examination. When we consider children’s literature, we must include ourselves in the equation: What kinds of readers are we? How do we relate to books and stories? To what degree should we impose our experience upon others? Reading children’s literature actively can lead to all kinds of remarkable (and sometimes unsettling) revelations about ourselves and our society.”

— from the Introduction

Considering Children’s Literature is a collection of previously published essays on a variety of topics that inform the study of children’s literature. Exploring issues such as censorship, the canon, the meanings of fairy tales, and the adaptation of children’s literature into film, the essays in this anthology are as diverse as they are illuminating.

Along with authors like Natalie Babbitt and Margaret Mahy, teachers, scholars, and publishers of children’s books are also contributors. Accessible and comprehensive, this book will appeal to anyone interested in children’s literature.


Considering Children’s Literature is a compilation of accessible—and often highly personal—explorations of children’s literature as literature. Placed together, they represent diverse opinions on several of the genres commonly explored within contemporary studies of children’s literature: the picture book, historical fiction, poetry, and folklore. Discussions of young adult literature, theatre, and film are also included. All in all, Considering Children’s Literature is a valuable anthology of critical opinions about children’s and young adult media that should engage its readers in provocative discussions about the place of children’s literature in today’s publishing houses, libraries, schools, and colleges.” — Jill May, Purdue University


Chapter I: Introducing the Study of Children’s Literature

  • Introduction
    Natalie Babbitt, “Happy Endings? Of Course, and Also Joy” (1970)
    Aidan Chambers, “Axes for Frozen Seas” (1985)
    Hazel Rochman, “Introduction: Beyond Political Correctness” (1993)
    Naser Yusefi, “Good Books, Bad Books—and Who Decides Why” (1995)

Chapter II: Historical Children’s Literature

  • Introduction
    Gillian Adams, “Medieval Children’s Literature: Its Possibility and Actuality” (1998)
    Peter Hunt, “Passing on the Past: The Problem of Books That Are for Children and That Were for Children”
    Susan R. Gannon, “Report from Limbo: Reading Historical Children’s Literature Today” (1998)

Chapter III: The Picturebook

  • Introduction
    Marcia Brown, “Distinction in Picture Books” (1958)
    Deborah Stevenson, “Narrative in Picture Books or, The Paper That Should Have Had Slides” (1998)
    Aidan Chambers, “Why ‘Tell Me’?” (1993)
    Aidan Chambers, From “Scenes from ‘Tell Me’ in Action” (1993)
    Scott McCloud, From “The Vocabulary of Comics” and “Blood in the Gutters” in Understanding
    Emer O’Sullivan, “Translating Pictures” (1999)

Chapter IV: Poetry and Nursery Rhymes

  • Introduction
    Perry Nodelman, “The Nursery Rhymes of Mother Goose: A World without Glasses” (1987)
    Morag Styles, “‘From the Best Poets’?: How the Canon of Poetry for Children Is Constructed”

Chapter V: Fairy Tales and Fantasy

  • Introduction
    Hugh Crago, “What Is a Fairy Tale?” (2003)
    Anna E. Altmann, “Parody and Poesis in Feminist Fairy Tales” (1994)
    C.W. Sullivan III, “Fantasy” (1992)

Chapter VI: Young Adult Literature

  • Introduction
    Anne Scott Macleod, “The Journey Inward: Adolescent Literature in America, 1945–1995” (1997)
    Virginia Monseau, From “Responding to Response” in Responding to Young Adult Literature (1996)
    Geralde Schmidt-Dumont, “Poetic Encryption and ‘Sex Scrubbed Clean’: A Report from Germany”
    Caroline Hunt, “Young Adult Literature Evades the Theorists” (1996)

Chapter VII: Drama and Theatre

  • Introduction
    Sanjay Kumar, “Theatre for Children in India: An Instrument for Social Change?” (1998)
    Jack Zipes, “Political Children’s Theatre in the Age of Globalization” (2003)
    Wolfgang Schneider, “‘Rosy Cheeks’ and ‘Shining Eyes’ as Criteria in Children’s
    Theatre Criticism” (1995)

Chapter VIII: Film Adaptations

  • Introduction
    Keith Mehlinger, “A Case Study of The Planet of Junior Brown” (2000)
    A. Waller Hastings, “Moral Simplification in Disney’s The Little Mermaid” (1993)
    Shaul Bassi, “Traffic in the Jungle: Teachers, Lawyers, Doctors, and Animals in Three Kipling Films”

Chapter IX: Theoretical Explorations and Practical Issues

  • Introduction
    Wendy Lamb, “Strange Business: The Publishing Point of View” (1998)
    Margaret Mahy (Lyttelton), “The Writer in New Zealand: Building Bridges through Children’s Books”
    Perry Nodelman, “Fear of Children’s Literature: What’s Left (or Right) After Theory?” (1997)
    Margaret Mackey, “Playing in the Phase Space: Contemporary Forms of Fictional Pleasure” (1999)

Further Readings


Andrea Schwenke Wyile is Associate Professor of English at Acadia University.

Teya Rosenberg is Associate Professor of English at Texas State University-San Marcos.