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Abraham Lincoln University The Value of Childrens Literature Discussion

Abraham Lincoln University The Value of Childrens Literature Discussion

Question Description

I’m working on a english writing question and need support to help me understand better.

Article Excerpt 1: This excerpt is from Peter Hunt’s “The expanding world of Children’s Literature Studies “Understanding Children’s Literature’” Routledge Press, 1998. Write an essay that agrees or disagrees with Hunt’s assessment about children’s literature. In your essay, use three different literary texts from the syllabus to make your argument. Be sure to have a clear thesis statement and include quotes from Hunt’s article in your essay.

‘Children’s literature’ sounds like an enticing field of study; because children’s books have been largely beneath the notice of intellectual and cultural gurus, they are (apparently) blissfully free of the ‘oughts’: what we ought to think and say about them. More than that, to many readers, children’s books are a matter of private delight, which means, perhaps, that they are real literature – if ‘literature’ consists of texts which engage, change, and provoke intense responses in readers.

But if private delight seems a somewhat indefensible justification for a study, then we can reflect on the direct or indirect influence that children’s books have, and have had, socially, culturally, and historically. They are overtly important educationally and commercially – with consequences across the culture, from language to politics: most adults, and almost certainly the vast majority of those in positions of power and influence, read children’s books as children, and it is inconceivable that the ideologies permeating those books had no influence on their development.

The books have, none the less, been marginalised. Childhood is, after all, a state we grow away from, while children’s books – from writing to publication to interaction with children – are the province of that culturally marginalised group, females. But this marginalisation has had certain advantages; because it has been culturally low-profile, ‘children’s literature’ has not become the ‘property’ of any group or discipline: it does not ‘belong’ to the Department of Literature or the Library School, or the local parents’ organisation. It is attractive and interesting to students (official or unofficial) of literature, education, library studies, history, psychology, art, popular culture, media, the caring professions, and so on, and it can be approached from any specialist viewpoint. Its nature, both as a group of texts and as a subject for study, has been to break down barriers between disciplines, and between types of readers. And as a group of texts it is at once one of the liveliest and most original of the arts, and the site of the crudest commercial exploitation. This means that, just as children’s books do not exist in a vacuum (they have real, 1argumentative readers and visible, practical, consequential uses), so the theory of children’s literature constantly blends into the practice of bringing books and readers together.

The slightly uncomfortable (or very inspiring) corollary of this is that we have to accept that children’s books are complex, and the study of them infinitely varied. Many students around the world who have been enticed onto children’s literature courses at all ‘levels’ rapidly find that things are more complicated than they had assumed. There cannot be many teachers of children’s literature who have not been greeted with a querulous ‘But it’s only a children’s book’, ‘Children won’t see that in it’, or ‘You’re making it more difficult than it should be’. But the complexities are not mere problematising by academics eager to secure their meal tickets; the most apparently straightforward act of communication is amazingly intricate – and we are dealing here with fundamental questions of communication and understanding between adults and children, or, more exactly, between individuals.

Children’s literature is more complex than it seems, even more complex, perhaps, is the position it finds itself in, between adult writers, readers, critics and practitioners, and child readers. Children’s literature is an obvious point at which theory encounters real life, where we are forced to ask: what can we say about a book, why should we say it, how can we say it, and what effect will what we say have? We are also forced to confront our preconceptions. Many people will deny that they were influenced by their childhood reading (‘I read xyz when I was a child, and it didn’t do me any harm’), and yet these may be the same people who accept that childhood is an important phase in our lives (as is almost universally acknowledged), and that children are vulnerable, susceptible, and must be protected from manipulation. Children’s literature is important – and yet it is not.

Consequently, before setting off to explore the somewhat tangled jungle that is ‘children’s literature’, we need to establish some basic concepts, ideas, and methods: to work through fundamental arguments, to look at which techniques of criticism, which discourses, and which strategies are appropriate to – or even unique to – our subject. It can be argued that we can (and should) harness the considerable theoretical and analytical apparatus of every discipline from philosophy to psychotherapy; or that we should evolve a critical theory and practice tailored to the precise needs of ‘children’s literature’.

Use MLA style.

Around 200-300 words

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