LIT 4334: The Golden Age of Children's Literature

Introduction – Athena Kifah

on January 13, 2013 9:19pm

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Hi! I’m Athena, a fourth year  English Major/ Education Minor here at UF. I’m from New Smyrna Beach (which is near Daytona) and I like my town a lot – even though I never really want to live there again. I like the ocean, diet coke, ice cream, butterflies, good TV and sleeping.

This is my fourth children’s literature course (counting Grimm’s fairytales), and they have been, by far, my favorite classes at UF. I’m an education minor and plan to go into guidance counseling, so it’s a particularly interesting and applicable subgenre for me. While I love the opportunity to delve into childhood classics (and to discover those books that were classics for others), I particularly enjoy considering the ways in which these literatures affect those first learning to read (or whether or not they do at all).

Out of the texts in the syllabus, I am most looking forward to Peter Pan – one my all-time favorite stories. I think it is so beautifully heartbreaking that Wendy and Peter share such an adventure and yet at the end of the story, Wendy grows up and Peter forgets all about her (spoiler alert). We think of this as Children’s literature and likely it is but can children truly appreciate that kind of loss and separation? Or are children more able to understand it than even we are? 

“Golden Age”? What a tricky moniker. It’s difficult and controversial to canonize in any genre and in such a fledgling one as this, perhaps no truly definitive classifications can be made. I think also that children’s literature is so highly generationalized – our affinities for our favorite childhood stories are so necessarily tied up in nostalgia and some vague concept of home. “Golden Age”, perhaps, is more accurately affixed to the idea of childhood in general, to those fleeting “carefree” and “easy” years.

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