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Picture Books. CMNS 320 2 Feb 2006 Ben Woo. The Children’s Book. Why do do children have a literature of their own?. Moral and spiritual instruction Literacy and education Entertainment and pleasure. Why do do children have a literature of their own?. Preserving the canon Bonding

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Picture Books

CMNS 320

2 Feb 2006

Ben Woo



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Why do do children have a literature of their own?

  • Moral and spiritual instruction

  • Literacy and education

  • Entertainment and pleasure


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Why do do children have a literature of their own?

  • Preserving the canon

  • Bonding

  • Therapy and Socialization


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A Brief History of the Children’s Book

  • First books

    • “Mother Goose” adaptations of oral culture (sagas, ballads, tall tales, and rhymes)

  • 1600: Reformation

    • Alphabet books, nursery rhymes, folk tales

    • Religious tracts

  • 1700: Schooling

    • ‘the greats’/ texts books: literacy a disciplining of consciousness and training for civility

    • opening new vistas: history, geography broadens scope


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A Brief History of the Children’s Book

  • 1800: Children’s Literature

    • Literature for its own sake: fantasy, imagination, fairy tales, folk tales and adventure stories

    • The canon of kid’s lit: Alice, Peter Pan, and Pooh

    • Delights of the imaginary world (sprites and animals; mystery and gentle humour)


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A Brief History of the Children’s Book

  • 1930 and on: Mass Market

    • From children’s literature to children’s media and popular culture

    • Comics, cinema, radio, and television begin to compete with children’s books as sources for stories


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The Genealogy of Narrative

  • Stories in Oral Culture:

    • Story-telling: Drama, play, myth, saga, religion

    • Role of Memory

    • The art of conversation

    • Voice and rhythm


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The Genealogy of Narrative

  • Books in modern culture

    • The literacy agenda: reading and writing as techniques of rationality

    • Reading to Kids:

      • The cultural agenda: knowledge, religion, civility and appropriate stories

      • The canon

    • Reading for Pleasure:

      • Autonomous zone of children’s literature

      • Liberated imagination


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The Genealogy of Narrative

  • Rise of Mass Mediated Culture:

    • Translation of folklore: Disney films and mass popular culture

    • Exposing the Secrets: blurring the boundaries between adult and child access to knowledge

    • Eroding the family sharing of stories

    • Ideological: Sanitization/contamination of Folk tales

    • Commodification of culture: audiences rather than children


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Children’s Book Publishing in Canada

  • According to Statistics Canada:

    • 66% of children’s books sold in Canada are by Canadian authors

    • Canadian publishers have a total of 6 565 children’s book titles in print

    • In 2000-01, Canadian publishers sales of children’s books (both their own titles and ones licensed from foreign authors) totaled $194 235 000


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Characteristics of Children’s Literature

  • Visual

  • Fantastic

  • Fun with language












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Two Moral Panics

  • Literacy

  • Delinquency



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“Wonder Woman … is always a horror type. She is physically very powerful, tortures men, has her own female following, is the cruel, "phallic" woman. While she is a frightening figure for boys, she is an undesirable ideal for girls, being the exact opposite of what girls are supposed to want to be.”


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“Only someone ignorant of the fundamentals of psychiatry and of the psychopathology of sex can fail to realize a subtle atmosphere of homoerotism which pervades the adventures of the mature ‘Batman’ and his young friend ‘Robin.’”


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The Comics Code Authority and of the psychopathology of sex can fail to realize a subtle atmosphere of homoerotism which pervades the adventures of the mature ‘Batman’ and his young friend ‘Robin.’”


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Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal, to promote distrust of the forces of law and justice, or to inspire others with a desire to imitate criminals.


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Although slang and colloquialisms are acceptable, excessive use should be discouraged and wherever possible good grammar shall be employed.


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Respect for parents, the moral code, and for honorable behavior shall be fostered. A sympathetic understanding of the problems of love is not a license for moral distortion.


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The treatment of love-romance stories shall emphasize the value of the home and the sanctity of marriage.


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Where have all the children gone? value of the home and the sanctity of marriage.

  • Dwindling child audience

  • Competition with television

  • Increasingly, readers AND creators are middle aged men who grew up reading comics


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Superman For All Seasons value of the home and the sanctity of marriage.


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