Disrupting Morality in Children's Literature
In the 1800s Maria Edgeworth noted the difficulty of constructing stories ‘suited to the early years of youth, and, at the same time, conformable to the complicate relations of modern society.’ Children of 2018, a ‘rising generation’ of remarkably sophisticated individuals, face a startling array of challenges. In a great many ways, we have seen a new “moral literature” develop for children—stories that address science and technology, multiculturalism, diversity (gender, family, socio-economics), and re-envisioning history so that marginalized peoples and their narratives are addressed. How does contemporary children's and young adult literature “amuse and instruct” or otherwise communicate moral reasoning in an age of disruption? In what ways has the change in the construction of childhood influenced narratives? What roles do play, learning, obedience, behavior, and creativity have in today’s narratives, counter-narratives, anti-narratives, multi-narratives, and speculative narratives?