Saturday, November 29, 2014

The future of Children's Literature

If we were to believe Neil Postman's vision of our future with the proliferation of media and multimedia the impact on society will mean that our children will no longer be children but small adults. The barrier that was created by print and literacy in print will disappear. Information is accessible by children regardless of skill in reading (Elwell, 2013). I disagree with this position. While children do have access to many forms of information and entertainment their understanding of it and ability to question it, critically examine it and even relate it to their own worlds is limited due to their intellectual development.  There are groups that are actively working to protect children from the influence of many of these forms of media. An example of this is Common sense media with their parent advisory on movies, television and  books  ("Common Sense Media Top Picks," n.d.). Parents and teachers are aware of the access children have to all media but are working to help them make choices about selecting things they can relate to, that are age appropriate in terms of learning, development  and world experiences. 

I see the future of children's literature as being multimedia. Take for example the Youtube video of B. J Noval reading from his book entitled The Book with no Pictures (Penguin Kids, 2014). I found this video on Facebook - a friend posted in her timeline. After I watched the video I ordered the book. This book has no pictures but the entertainment value is that adults have to read some of the nonsense it contains. The book plays with the idea of text being read aloud and how text works. The characters become the person reading the book and the people listening and enjoying it. The point is - you still need the text in the first place. Who posted this video to Youtube? Not a teacher, not a member of the audience but the publisher. Publishers are realizing that promotion of books comes through multi media and social media.

Some stories are now what are called born-digital. One example is InanimateAlice which is being written and animated through the web over a period of time ("Inanimate Alice a digital novel," n.d.). Children are invited to read text and view the video and illustration online. This website was awarded best website for teaching and learning in 2012 by American Association of School Librarians ("Classroom Resources," n.d.) What is interesting about this example is that while it is an example of the media that Postman says will erode barriers between adults and children it still follows the definition of children’s literature in that it is created by adults for children (Winch, 2006, p. 398). The intended audience is children. It has supporting teaching materials, badges for the readers, so many multimedia expressions yet it requires children to read and view simultaneously. 

This method of reading may be what Zipe is referring to when he writes about young people reading texts much differently to their teachers (p. 42). Indeed there is quite a discussion continuing in many education circles about multiple literacies and how students today read not only print  Zipes argument is that children are being targeted as consumers in our modern society and what they bring to their reading experiences include their consumerism and worldview as viewers/readers of multimedia (p. 44).  I agree that children are influenced greatly by the world around them, the media and their own experiences. I am interested to learn more about how we as librarians and educators can assist the students we work with develop as readers of all forms of text. The future of children's literature is rich and challenging involving print and electronic forms.

Boyd, B. (2012, October 29). E-Books and Beyond: The Future of Children’s Literature. [Blog post]. Retrieved from Bill Boyd – The Literacy Adviser website:

Classroom resources. (n.d.). Retrieved November 29, 2014, from

Common sense media top picks. (n.d.). Retrieved November 29, 2014, from

Elwell, F. (2013). Neil Postman on the Disappearance of Childhood. Retrieved November 17, 2014, from Rogers State Univeristy website:

Inanimate Alice a digital novel. (n.d.). Retrieved November 23, 2014, from Inanimate Alice website:

Penguin Kids. (2014, September 30). The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak [Video file]. Retrieved from

Winch, G. (2006). Literacy: Reading, writing, and children's literature (3rd ed.). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Zipes, J. (2009). Misreading children and the fate of the book. In Relentless progress the reconfiguration of children's literature, fairy tales, and storytelling (pp. 27-44). London: Routledge.