What we read as children forms who we become and provides our first world view. This course provides an opportunity to critically assess the stories that shaped our understanding of morals, culture, and values, as well as those we will impart to future generations. In this discussion-oriented interactive course, we will read and review children’s books, examine the purposes of visual literacy, and write reviews on specific authors and illustrators.
This course aims to examine how the books children read – from Aesop’s Fables to Amar Chitra Katha comics and the Harry Potter series – shape their outlook and emotional development. We will study the historical, creative, nurturing, emotional, and educational aspects of these forms of literature and their impact on us later in life. We will also consider why a study of children’s literature is important, and how it impacts pedagogies for children across borders.
We will also examine the views of multiple theoretical thinkers and texts in conjunction with actual children's literature. We will ask the important but often overlooked questions about this particular genre, mainly focusing on Indian and Western children’s literature. The purpose is not so much to compare these two cultural offerings, but to give us a taste of both.
We shall consider popular stories for children up to 12 years old, including Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, Amar Chitra Katha, Matilda, The Little Prince, Feluda and Mulan. At the same time, we will also study theoretical thinkers such as Jack Zipes, Seth Lerer, Paulo Freire, and Bruno Bettelheim to help us navigate the complex field of children’s literature in relation to issues of culture, religion, difference, gender, and sexuality.
We will unpack the didactic intent as well as the pleasure principle that might have prompted the writers. Authorial intent is, however, only one part of our study; the other part is to see how children and parents receive these stories. Children’s literature creates moral as well as national frameworks that help acculturate young people. In examining the genre of children’s literature, we will consider various sub-genres such as picture books, fairy tales, fables, and chapter books.