Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ethics and Children's Literature

Today is the long-awaited first day of the conference on Ethics and Children's Literature that I have been planning for the better part of this calendar year. In fact, I remember sitting with Lisa Rowe Fraustino at the poetry-writing retreat early in January, as she helped me brainstorm how to word the call for papers. And now the conference begins this evening.

I have three keynote addresses.  Acclaimed children's book author Susan Campbell Bartoletti (who won a Newbery Honor for her book Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow, as well as just about every accolade available for her searing nonfiction for young readers on topics ranging from the Klan to the Irish potato famine) will open the conference tonight with “Moving Through Fear: Writing History for Young Readers.”  Friday night we'll hear from prominent children's literature scholar Claudia Nelson of Texas A& M University, who will look at one moment in our long history of moralizing to children through children's books in her talk “Transmitting Ethics through Books of Golden Deeds for Children." On  Saturday night, philosopher Tom Wartenberg of Mount Holyoke College will give the closing keynote, sharing his pioneering work in getting kids to talk about philosophical questions connected with ethics via picture book texts; his talk is "Teaching Ethics with Frog and Toad."

We'll also spend two and a half wonderfully full days listening to dozens of papers and talks by both scholars and children's authors. Many of the presenters are my dear friends, and I can't wait to welcome them here to the Prindle Institute so they can see my beautiful little DePauw world. The full program for the conference is available on the conference website at

I wish all of you, my dear blog readers, could be here for the conference, too. 


  1. Me, too.
    By the way, Claire just finished your Losers Inc last night.
    "Mommy, this is a bad book," as she was tangling with Ethan not winning the science fair. And then, as she closed it, "Mommy, this was such a good good book." Maybe a paper on 'the ethics of endings'...???

  2. Gosh, this conference sounds completely tremendous, Claudia. And Losers, Inc. WAS a good, good book. Took a good, good person to write it.