Theory for BeginnersChildren's Literature as Critical Thought

Theory for BeginnersChildren's Literature as Critical Thought

Kenneth B. Kidd

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9780823289592

Publisher: Fordham University Press

Abstract

Theory for Beginners explores how philosophy and theory draw on children’s literature and have even come to resemble it in their strategies for cultivating the child and/or the beginner. After centuries of ignoring the child, some philosophy now considers the child an exemplary practitioner as well as subject. This attitude drives the Philosophy for Children or P4C movement, which got its start in the United States in the early 1970s and has since spread to other countries and continents. P4C has affirmed children’s literature as important philosophical work. Theory, meanwhile, has invested in some children’s classics and has also developed a literature for beginners that resembles children’s literature. After examining the P4C movement, the book turns its attention to theory for beginners and especially in the form of illustrated or graphic guides. These guides emerged from the anticolonial and Marxist work of Mexican activist and author-illustrator Eduardo del Rio, aka Rius. Rius’ Cuba Para Principiantes, or Cuba for Beginners (1970), kicked off the Beginners graphic series, emphasizing the self-teaching of political-critical awareness. The genre gradually went mainstream, losing the political edge. If philosophy is for children, and theory is for beginners, then children’s literature might also be described as a literature for minors. The third and final chapter pursues that idea, proposing more specifically that children’s and young adult literature can sometimes function as queer theory for kids.