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Little Red Readings - Historical Materialist Perspectives on Children’s Literature

Little Red Readings

Historical Materialist Perspectives on Children’s Literature

Edited by Angela E. Hubler
Series: Children's Literature Association Series

Paperback : 9781496807830, 304 pages, 8 b&w illustrations, March 2016
Hardcover : 9781617039874, 304 pages, 8 b&w illustrations, April 2014

A compelling case for the need to analyze children's literature from a Marxist perspective


A significant body of scholarship examines the production of children's literature by women and minorities, as well as the representation of gender, race, and sexuality. But few scholars have previously analyzed class in children's literature. This definitive collection remedies that by defining and exemplifying historical materialist approaches to children's literature. The introduction of Little Red Readings lucidly discusses characteristics of historical materialism, the methodological approach to the study of literature and culture first outlined by Karl Marx, defining key concepts and analyzing factors that have marginalized this tradition, particularly in the United States.

The thirteen essays here analyze a wide range of texts—from children's bibles to Mary Poppins to The Hunger Games—using concepts in historical materialism from class struggle to the commodity. Essayists apply the work of Marxist theorists such as Ernst Bloch and Fredric Jameson to children's literature and film. Others examine the work of leftist writers in India, Germany, England, and the United States.

The authors argue that historical materialist methodology is critical to the study of children's literature, as children often suffer most from inequality. Some of the critics in this collection reveal the ways that literature for children often functions to naturalize capitalist economic and social relations. Other critics champion literature that reveals to readers the construction of social reality and point to texts that enable an understanding of the role ordinary people might play in creating a more just future. The collection adds substantially to our understanding of the political and class character of children's literature worldwide and contributes to the development of a radical history of children's literature.


"Hubler's thoughtfully curated and presented collection strengthens multicultural analysis through its addition of the Marxist historical materialist perspective."

- Children's Literature Association Quarterly

"Little Red Readings makes a major contribution to historical materialist criticism and to children's literature criticism. The thirteen essays by outstanding scholars offer a wonderful variety of historical materialist approaches to a range of topics within children's and young adult literature, and the introduction offers a useful overview of historical materialism as a methodology. And, the essays are a great read!"

- Julia Mickenberg, author of Learning from the Left: Children's Literature, the Cold War, and Radical Politics in the United States

"Little Red Readings is a big deal and great stuff! Thanks to Angela Hubler and the contributors to this significant book on historical materialism and children's literature, we can grasp more clearly why it is necessary to study the class conflicts and socio-economic relations that forge the very nature of children's literature. Indeed, Hubler's book is very timely, because we tend to evade talking about the causes of the immiseration of children while praising noteworthy books that deal with the denigration and abuse of children. There is no evasion in Little Red Readings, and let us hope there will be more readings like this in the future."

- Jack Zipes, author of The Irresistible Fairy Tale

"Angela Hubler's Little Red Readings is an historical materialist primer for children's lit scholars and a call to action. It's Marxist. It's feminist. It's radical. Read it!"

- Philip Nel, author of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children's Literature