Talking politics

In an increasingly visible year, full of increasingly visible and often questionable political rhetoric, I’ve been looking for resources that help us explain this to children. It’s easy to underestimate what a child knows of society, and it’s easy to not discuss this sort of thing. Childhood is childhood and I get the precious protection of that. But equally, we live in a context of connectivity. We are global, we are social, and people talk.

Here’s a few resources that may help you talk with your children or those you work with. I’ve added the date in brackets after each entry for a static entry. I’d like to list more so please do feel free to comment with anything useful that I may have missed.

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New beginnings, New Year’s resolutions, and a shiny quarter

The thing about the children’s literature online community (CLOC – patent pending) is that it’s full of brilliant and smart people writing brilliant and smart things. And I think that’s vital. I think questioning and examining and rootling into the heart of what we read and write is such an important thing. It’s through that  rootling that we discover where we stand in life and what we believe and how to map that belief system onto literature which then can either reflect, react or refract those beliefs back on us.

Basically children’s books are brilliant, and if you fancy learning a bit more about them (and about yourself), then here’s some of my top tips for book learning in 2014.  I know, I know, you’ve read a bazillion New Year’s Resolution sort of posts by now. But here’s one that you can a) do, b) enjoy and c) be a big book nerd over. Seriously, what more do you need?

  • Ted Talks. Each talk lasts fifteen minutes and are, more often than not, amazing. The splendid Zoe at Playing By The Book collated some of the best children’s literature related talks here and here.
  • The Book Wars. This is an excellent group blog by students studying for an MA in children’s literature (hey, you should totally do that and ask me all about it). There’s very rarely a post on here that doesn’t make me think very deeply about things.
  • Women Write About Comics. I have a lot of love and respect for WWAC. Comics aren’t my speciality by any means (unless they feature 1950s schoolgirls and Jolly HiJinks) but this site tells me what I should be reading, why I should be reading and why it matters.
  • Talking of visual media, here are two book recommendations on the topic. Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics is perfection. Hugely accessible and interesting, he explores what a comic is and does and can be. It’s one of those books that justifies itself a thousand times within the first page. A book which does the same thing but for picture books is Looking At Pictures In Picture Books by Jane Doonan. Again, this will teach you everything about picture books and change your perception of them forever.
  • Time for another blog, but this time it’s an individual’s blog and that individual is Maria Nikolajeva. Her wonderful work on children’s literature made me have those cartoon lightbulb moments and her blog is no exception. Her elegant, exploratory posts in diverse topics of children’s literature are wonderful things to read.
  • And finally, are you on Twitter? If you aren’t, you’re missing out on some outstanding and diverse groups of people freely sharing of their expertise and knowledge. And they are experts and brilliant, that much is clear. Have a look at people like @letterboxlibrary, @novelicious, @rookiemag, @bookishbrits, @projectUKYA, @SDSUCHildLitGSA for starters and you’ll see what I mean. I’ve focused on organisations – if I were to list amazing people, then I’d be here all week.

Do you have anything you’d add to the list? What’s your top tip for learning more about children’s books (other than, you know, reading them) ?

PS: I know I mentioned a shiny quarter for you. Here you are 🙂