The Early Reader in Children’s Literature and Culture
Author: Jennifer Miskec,Annette Wannamaker
Genre: Literary Criticism
Book Summary: This is the first volume to consider the popular literary category of Early Readers – books written and designed for children who are just beginning to read independently. It argues that Early Readers deserve more scholarly attention and careful thought because they are, for many younger readers, their first opportunity to engage with a work of literature on their own, to feel a sense of mastery over a text, and to experience pleasure from the act of reading independently. Using interdisciplinary approaches that draw upon and synthesize research being done in education, child psychology, sociology, cultural studies, and children’s literature, the volume visits Early Readers from a variety of angles: as teaching tools; as cultural artifacts that shape cultural and individual subjectivity; as mass produced products sold to a niche market of parents, educators, and young children; and as aesthetic objects, works of literature and art with specific conventions. Examining the reasons such books are so popular with young readers, as well as the reasons that some adults challenge and censor them, the volume considers the ways Early Readers contribute to the construction of younger children as readers, thinkers, consumers, and as gendered, raced, classed subjects. It also addresses children’s texts that have been translated and sold around the globe, examining them as part of an increasingly transnational children’s media culture that may add to or supplant regional, ethnic, and national children’s literatures and cultures. While this collection focuses mostly on books written in English and often aimed at children living in the US, it is important to acknowledge that these Early Readers are a major US cultural export, influencing the reading habits and development of children across the globe.