My reading tends to cluster around themes and specific interests (like many people, I’m sure) even if I’m not formally studying or writing about them. Every now and then I will organize them into a brief bibliography like this: think of it as a mini-syllabus, or short edited collection drawn from a really great conference.

A significant theme in many of the writers I value is the (beneficial) relationship between children’s literature and Literature literature. Without sentiment, these are readings that exposit the value of children’s literature even for those of us who have left childhood behind.

In Defense of Children’s Literature

G. K. Chesterton, “A Defense of Penny Dreadfuls”

J. R. R. Tolkien, “On Fairy Stories”

C. S. Lewis, essays from On Stories: “On Three Ways of Writing for Children,” “Sometimes Fairy Stories May Say Best What Needs to Be Said,” “On Juvenile Tastes”

Michael Chabon, “Trickster in a Suit of Lights,” from Maps and Legends

Ivan Ilyin, trans. Nicholas Kotar, “The Spiritual Meaning of Stories”

Applied Studies

Alison Milbank, “The Riddle and the Gift: The Hobbit at Christmas”

Alan Jacobs, “The Youngest Brother’s Tale” and “Beyond the Wild Wood”

Marly Youmans, “The Cupboard Child”

Lauren Wilford, “Towards a True Children’s Cinemna: on ‘My Neighbor Totoro’”

Simcha Fisher, “Frog and Toad Are their Own Right Size”

Ian Bogost, “The Hidden Depths of Sandra Boynton’s Board Books”

My own “Atheist Children’s Fantasy”

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