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Alt Kid Lit - What Children's Literature Might Be

Alt Kid Lit

What Children's Literature Might Be

Edited by Kenneth B. Kidd & Derritt Mason
Series: Children's Literature Association Series

Hardcover : 9781496851024, 300 pages, 18 b&w illustrations, March 2024
Paperback : 9781496851031, 300 pages, 18 b&w illustrations, March 2024

Table of contents


Kenneth B. Kidd and Derritt Mason

Part I. Alt Genre

Kid Lit from beyond the Grave: Spiritualism, Child Mediums, and the Haunting Problem of Child Agency
Victoria Ford Smith

Singing a “Sea Island Song”: Alice Childress’s Responsive Black Theater
Katharine Capshaw

The Seductions of Little Red Riding Hood: On the Thresholds of Children’s Drawings
Jakob Rosendal

Snanger Danger: SS/HG Fanfiction, Kinship, and an Affinity Space Model of Children’s and Young Adult Literature
Amanda K. Allen

Zine Ecoactivism and Pedagogies of Hope in World War 3 Illustrated #46
Brianna Anderson

Emergency Children’s Literature: Some Observations on Pandemic Picture Books
Gabriel Duckels

The Case of Jonny’s Genre: An Interview with Joshua Whitehead
Derritt Mason

Part II. Alt Medium

YA Literature, Plus Ultra: A Case Study of the Shōnen Anime My Hero Academia
Brandon Murakami

From Melodrama to Kitschy Romance: Alt Kid Media in India and Pakistan
Tehmina Pirzada

“Bizarre Creatures” and the Fans Who Love Them: The Dark Crystal as Alternative Children’s Culture
Paige Gray

Video Games and Young People’s Digital Cultures: A Panel Discussion
Kristopher Alexander, Negin Dahya, TreaAndrea M. Russworm, Catherine Burwell, and Derritt Mason

Part III. Alt Epistemology

The Alt Within: Queerness, Psychoanalysis, and Children’s Literature as Enigmatic Signifier
Natasha Hurley

“We’re Americans Too!”: Contingencies and Contradictions in Picture Books about Japanese American Incarceration
Gabrielle Atwood Halko

Retomando el Día de los Muertos: Death, Life, and Latinx Epistemology in Children’s Literature
Cristina Rhodes

Reimagining the “Alternative”: Sustaining Representation of Indigenous People and People of Color through Speculative Fiction in The Marrow Thieves and Mañanaland
Erica Law-Montes and Cristina Rivera

Silkpunk and Agender Childhoods in Neon Yang’s Tensorate Universe
Shuyin Yu

Alt Publishing for Young People: An Interview with Vivek Shraya
Derritt Mason



A timely group of essays that wrestles with what children’s literature is and who it is made for


Contributions by Kristopher Alexander, Amanda K. Allen, Brianna Anderson, Catherine Burwell, Katharine Capshaw, Negin Dahya, Gabriel Duckels, Paige Gray, Gabrielle Atwood Halko, Natasha Hurley, Kenneth B. Kidd, Erica Law-Montes, Derritt Mason, Brandon Murakami, Tehmina Pirzada, Cristina Rhodes, Cristina Rivera, Jakob Rosendal, TreaAndrea M. Russworm, Vivek Shraya, Victoria Ford Smith, Joshua Whitehead, and Shuyin Yu

How do we think about children’s and young adult literature? Children’s literature is often defined through audience, so what happens when children are drawn to and claim genres not built expressly “for” them? To what extent do canonical formations tend to overwrite or obscure less visible efforts to create and promote material for the young? These are the driving questions of Alt Kid Lit: What Children's Literature Might Be.

Contributors to the volume offer theoretical meditations on the category of children’s and young adult literature as well as case studies of materials that complicate our understanding of such. Chapters attend to a diverse array of subjects including the “non-places” of children’s literature; child mediums; Black theater for children; children’s interpretive drawings; fanfiction; Latinx, Indigenous, and silkpunk speculative fiction; environmental zines; shōnen anime; Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal; South Asian television; and “emergency children’s literature.” The book also features interviews with two experimental writers about genre and alt-publishing and a roundtable conversation on video games and children’s digital engagements. Building on diverse approaches including queer theory and postcolonial studies, Alt Kid Lit shines light on materials, methodologies, and epistemologies that are sometimes underacknowledged in the field of children’s and young adult literature studies.


"Alt Kid Lit is precisely what the field of children’s and young adult literature scholarship needs: a bold, provocative, and exciting collection of essays that embrace nuanced, self-interrogating perspectives. It takes a necessary cannon to the concept of the canon."

- Katharine Slater, associate professor of English at Rowan University

"Alt Kid Lit asks us to think nimbly as it explores and challenges the borders of an evolving field, the study of texts for young people. This collection entices readers to consider the ways in which we delineate our discipline, what counts as scholarship, what makes a text worthy of critical attention, and which texts and young people are relegated to the margins. In the process, it complicates existing definitions of child agency, authorship, and readership by offering up new approaches and modes of thinking that expand, nuance, and trouble current assumptions about young people’s texts and cultures."

- Annette Wannamaker, coordinator of the Children’s Literature Program at Eastern Michigan University

"A vital provocation for scholars of children’s and young adult literature, in which twenty-three sharp thinkers challenge us to expand our definitions, center the underrepresented, and redraw the boundaries that haunt the field. As the essays in Alt Kid Lit demonstrate, if you want to change the paradigm, you first need to take the risks that lead to new ways of thinking. So. Accept that challenge. Start by reading this book."

- Philip Nel, author of Was the Cat in the Hat Black? The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books