I've brought philosophical issues into some of my children's books, such as Standing Up to Mr. O where my protagonist takes a moral stand against dissecting animals in her seventh-grade biology class, and Dinah Forever, where Dinah is plunged into an existential crisis upon learning that the sun is going to burn out in a mere five billion years. I've brought children's literature into some of my philosophy classes: I start my Intro to Ethics course each year by reading the chapter from Stuart Little where Stuart is a substitute teacher interrogating his students on what is "important"; I close the semester by having my students write their final exam on the moral dilemma faced by Marty in Phyllis Naylor's Newbery-winning novel Shiloh.
In the past couple of years, the two careers have increasingly converged. As a visiting professor at DePauw I taught children's literature in the English department, for the first time in my professional life, as well as my usual repertoire of courses for Philosophy. There I also organized a symposium on Ethics and Children's Literature, with three keynote speakers: one a philosopher, one a children's lit scholar, and one a children's book author (my own three hats). I'm editing some of the papers from that symposium into a book forthcoming from Ashgate Press.
And this coming Friday, my own CU Philosophy Department is hosting a symposium in honor of my retirement, organized by my most kind and amazingly wonderful colleague, Prof. Mitzi Lee. The symposium is called "Children's Literature and Philosophical Wondering." It's going to be a moment of surpassing sweetness for me to have the two great loves that have structured my professional life brought together in this event attended by my colleagues and friends from the past twenty years.
If you're anywhere near Boulder, come! It's free and open to the public.