Children's Literature Not as Simple as It Seems

UConn Today
Children’s literature expert Victoria Ford Smith has found an ideal environment in Storrs to teach her specialty. Teaching children’s literature to college students who have lived in a multimedia world for their entire lives presents both challenges and opportunities, says Smith, who also is a specialist in 19th and 20th-century British literature and culture. Children’s literature today is saturated with media, and many beloved children’s stories are best known through the lens of animation. When students study classic books they have read, however, such as Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, or E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, Smith says there is an emotional attachment to the books. She presents the material through a critical lens that can face some resistance, as contemporary cultural and historical views may change the way characters are depicted, such as the representation of Native Americans in Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

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"You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend." — Paul Sweeney