The Early Reader Reader

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Jennifer Miskec and Annette Wannamaker
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The Early Reader Reader

Edited by Jennifer Miskec and Annette Wannamaker

Early Readers such as Ruby Lu, Junie B. Jones, Babymouse, Alvin Ho, Amy Hodgepodge, EllRay Jakes, Judy Moody and Stink are first and foremost a practical category of children's literature, and are therefore considered by most scholars to be explicitly utilitarian. Early Readers—along with younger brother Easy Reader—work within the parameters of specific vocabulary, sentence structure, illustrative, and generic forms that reflect the imagined literacy needs of an "early fluent" audience. Early Readers are also, however, cultural texts and a literary category that demand critical attention, a conversation that has been slow to start. To date, a few critical discussions have focused on books or series within the category of Early Reader; there have been scholarly discussions of Captain Underpants, Ivy and Bean, and Frog and Toad in particular, but there are no collections or book-length studies examining the Early Reader as a genre.

Early Readers deserve much more scholarly attention and careful thought than they have received. Significantly, they are, for many younger readers, their first opportunity to engage with a work of literature on their own, to feel a sense of mastery over a text and, ideally, to experience pleasure from the act of beginning to read independently. More work needs to be done that thinks carefully about the ways such texts contribute to the construction of younger children as readers, thinkers, and as gendered, raced, classed subjects, and about the ways in which such texts are aesthetic objects, creative works of literature that often playfully combine language and illustration.

We seek for possible inclusion in this collection critical essays about Early Readers from multiple perspectives in order to work to define the social and aesthetic work of this category above and beyond its utility. We seek genre and series studies; examinations of race, class, and gender; analyses of the function and form of visual texts; cultural analyses of such books as mass-produced and carefully marketed products, and analyses of patterns and trends within the category of Early Readers. Interdisciplinary examinations—merging literacy studies with literary analysis, for example—are also welcome, though the editors prefer not to include essays on pedagogical issues.

350-500 word chapter proposals are due by September 1st, 2013. Proposals should be for original works that have not been published previously (including in conference proceedings) and that are not currently under consideration for another edited collection or journal. Those considering submitting are encouraged to correspond with the editors.

Dr. Jennifer Miskec, Associate Professor of English, Longwood University,

Dr. Annette Wannamaker, Associate Professor of English, Eastern Michigan University,