Reading and Rebellion: An Anthology of Radical Writing for Children 1900-1960

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9780198806189: Reading and Rebellion: An Anthology of Radical Writing for Children 1900-1960
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Kim Reynolds, Jane Rosen, and Michael Rosen present a new anthology of radical writings for children from the first half of the twentieth century. In the years 1900 to 1960, large sections of the British population embraced a spectrum of left-wing positions with a view to maintaining peace and creating a more just, less class riven, more planned, and more enjoyable society for all. Children's books and periodicals were a central part of radical activity since the young were expected not just to inherit but also to help make this new society, and reading was regarded as the most direct way of helping them acquire the skills for this task. From alphabets through picture books, periodicals, information books, plays, song-books, pamphlets, and novels, many works of children's literature leaned left, but with the possible exception of references to Geoffrey Trease's Bows Against the Barons (1934), a Marxist retelling of the Robin Hood story, it is almost impossible to realise this from standard accounts of this period. This anthology contains a wide selection of the kinds of materials that left-wing and progressive parents would have wanted their children to read and which children understood as part of their initiation into a politically radical class.

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Review:

As an addition to the history of children's literature, Reading and Rebellion is both nuanced and intriguing. (Imogen Russell Williams, The Times Literary Supplement)

For a very modest £25 you get a huge amount of material: over 150 pages of history and commentary on a seriously neglected period, which alone would make the book worthwhile ... An impressive project, very well done. Buy it. You won't be disappointed. (Peter Hunt, Children's Books History Society)

The perfect read for a New Year and a new generation who more than anyone else will help ensure a future where peace and goodwill is more than a seasonal marketing gimmick but instead at the core of human existence. (Mark Perryman, Philosophy Football)

This anthology is a joy to read. Its richness and variety reminds me of Inside the Rainbow (Redstone Press, 2013), the astonishing collection of Russian children's illustrations from 1920-1935, but whereas that focused on one country and one short period of time, Reading and Rebellion casts its net wider in both time and space. The familiar (to me, at least: Im not sure how much Geoffrey Trease is read these days) and the (to me, at least) completely unknown, such as Micky Mongrel, the class conscious dog, a cartoon from the Daily Worker, sit happily side by side with stories, advice, history, information, moral homilies, fairy tales, and every conceivable kind of writing from a left-wing perspective. Given the stultifyingly conservative narrowness of the vast majority of the children's literature that's all most of us know, this is a fresh wind, and I enjoyed it enormously. (Philip Pullman)

About the Author:

Kimberley Reynolds is the Professor of Children's Literature in the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics at Newcastle University in the UK. She has served on the boards of a number of national and international organisations, is a Past President of the International Research Society for Children's Literature, and was the first Senior Honorary Research Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions at the University of Western Australia. She has lectured and published widely on a variety of aspects of children's literature. Her monograph, Radical Children's Literature: Future Visions and Aesthetic Transformations (2007) received the Children's Book Award for 2009. In 2013 she received the International Brothers Grimm Award for scholarly contributions to the field of children's literature studies. Jane Rosen is a Librarian who works in Special Libraries. She is currently employed in a national museum. Her research interests include radical and working-class children's literature and education, and she has presented papers on the subject at several international conferences. She has also published reviews and articles in a variety of publications including an essay on The Young Socialist in Little Red Readings: Historical Materialist Perspectives on Children's Literature (2014). Michael Rosen is the Professor of Children's Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has been teaching children's literature on MA courses since 1993 at University of North London/London Metropolitan University and Birkbeck, prior to his tenure at Goldsmiths. Since 1974 he has published over 150 books for children (poetry, picture book texts, fiction, non-fiction), including We're Going on a Bear Hunt (illustrated by Helen Oxenbury), The Sad Book (illustrated by Quentin Blake), and Quick Let's Get Out of Here (illustrated by Quentin Blake). His books for adults include Alphabetical, how every letter tells a story (John Murray) and The Disappearance of Emile Zola: Love, Literature and the Dreyfus Case (Faber and Faber). He has been broadcasting on BBC World Service and Radio 4 and 3 since 1987, and hosts BBC Radio 4's 'Word of Mouth'. He writes a monthly column in Guardian Education, a column in the New Humanist, and is poet-in-residence on 'The Teacher'.

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