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Containing Childhood - Space and Identity in Children’s Literature

Containing Childhood

Space and Identity in Children’s Literature

Edited by Danielle Russell
Series: Children's Literature Association Series

Hardcover : 9781496841179, 240 pages, November 2022
Paperback : 9781496841186, 240 pages, November 2022

A critical exploration of space in children’s literature and how those spaces affect child characters and readers


Contributions by Miranda A. Green-Barteet, Kathleen Kellett, Andrew McInnes, Joyce McPherson, Rebecca Mills, Cristina Rivera, Wendy Rountree, Danielle Russell, Anah-Jayne Samuelson, Sonya Sawyer Fritz, Andrew Trevarrow, and Richardine Woodall

Home. School. Nature. The spaces children occupy, both physically and imaginatively, are never neutral. Instead, they carry social, cultural, and political histories that impose—or attempt to impose—behavioral expectations. Moreover, the spaces identified with childhood reflect and reveal adult expectations of where children “belong.”

The essays in Containing Childhood: Space and Identity in Children’s Literature explore the multifaceted and dynamic nature of space, as well as the relationship between space and identity in children’s literature. Contributors to the volume address such questions as: What is the nature of that relationship? What happens to the spaces associated with childhood over time? How do children conceptualize and lay claim to their own spaces?

The book features essays on popular and lesser-known children’s fiction from North America and Great Britain, including works like The Hate U Give, His Dark Materials, The Giver quartet, and Shadowshaper. Adopting a multidisciplinary approach in their analysis, contributors draw upon varied scholarly areas such as philosophy, race, class, and gender studies, among others. Without reducing the issues to any singular theory or perspective, each piece provides insight into specific treatments of space in specific periods of time, thereby affording scholars a greater appreciation of the diverse spatial patterns in children’s literature.


"This collection, with a diverse range of contributors addressing a broad selection of texts for middle and young adult readers, builds on—rather than replicates—existing work. It provides a useful contribution to the growing field of geographies and mobilities of childhood."

- Terri Doughty, coeditor of Knowing Their Place? Identity and Space in Children’s Literature

"Containing Childhood is erudite, engaging, and original. The new ideas in this collection highlight the intersections between personal and geographic spaces, as well as social, political, economic, racial, gendered, and conceptual spaces, while raising necessary and timely questions about the ways we participate within them. The result is a sophisticated and thoughtful reflection on the ideas of boundaries, liminal spaces, and identity."

- Jane Suzanne Carroll, author of Landscape in Children’s Literature