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What Do We Tell the Children? Critical Essays on Children’s Literature - Head Work

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This peer-reviewed collection of critical essays on children’s literature addresses contemporary debates regarding what constitutes “suitable” texts for young audiences. The volume examines what adult writers “tell” their child readers with particular focus on the following areas: the representation of sexuality, gender and the body; the treatment of death and trauma; concepts of race, prejudice and national identity; and the use of children’s literature as a tool for socializing, acculturating, politicizing and educating children. The focus of the collection is on Irish and international fiction addressed at readers from mid-childhood to young adulthood. One section of the book examines what child readers were told in the past while another section examines young readers’ capacity for self-invention through the participatory culture of the twenty-first century. Topics explored include the controversial issue of teenage prostitution and the commodification of the male body in contemporary young adult fiction, the allure of celebrity and the impact of today’s surveillance culture on young people, the representation of the Holocaust for young readers, and representations of Muslim characters and culture in a post-9/11 mediascape.

This collection, which offers insights into a range of literary constructions and representations of childhood, will be a valuable resource for students and scholars working in children’s literature, youth culture and childhood studies.

Contributors: Jane Suzanne Carroll, Norma Clarke, Shehrazade Emmambokus, Michele Gill, Marnie Hay, Eimear Hegarty, Nora Maguire, Kerry Mallan, Anne Markey, Kimberley Reynolds, Beth Rodgers, Kay Sambell.

This is the fifth publication of the Irish Society for the Study of Children’s Literature (ISSCL). It follows the Society’s publication of Studies in Children’s Literature 1500–2000 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2004), Treasure Islands: Studies in Children’s Literature (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2006), Divided Worlds: Studies in Children’s Literature (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007) and Young Irelands: Studies in Children’s Literature (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2011).

Author Biography

Ciara Ní Bhroin lectures in English Literature at Coláiste Mhuire, Marino Institute of Education (an associated college of Trinity College, Dublin). She serves on the executive committee of IBBY Ireland and is a founder member and former president of the Irish Society for the Study of Children’s Literature. Her areas of special interest are identity and ideology in Irish children’s literature, Irish mythology and the representation of the past in Irish children’s fiction, and she has published a number of articles and book chapters on these topics.Patricia Kennon is a Lecturer in English Literature at Froebel College of Education, County Dublin. She is editor of Inis: The Children’s Books Ireland Magazine and president of the Irish national section of IBBY. In 2010, she won an Excellence in Teaching Award from the National Academy for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning. Her research interests include gender in children’s literature and popular culture, visual culture, transmedia storytelling and Victorian literature.
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