Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What I Learned From ENG 542: History and Criticism of Children's Literature

  • Folktales and fairytales rarely have an “original” version.
  • We often assume folktales are for children when they aren’t. Then we make the mistake of adapting them for children without analyzing them (i.e. Little Mermaid).
  • It’s important for children’s literature to remain true to who children actually are rather than idealicizing or “adultifying” them.
  • Childhood hasn’t ended. There are just fewer secrets. (See Kathleen O’Donnel, Honey We Lost the Kids)
  • Little House on the Prairie is racist but historically accurate to the author’s perspective. Books like this should be discussed instead of merely read to kids.
  • Velveteen Rabbit is about love triumphing over reason, so the “random fairy” isn’t really random.
  • There are lots of literary theories. I used new criticism in undergrad, and my favorite theories are cultural studies, queer studies, and reader response theory.
  • When analyzing a book, keep the target age in mind.
  • Online discussions take more work than physically going to class. If your teacher gives you a choice, go to class.

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