Files are bought, some notes scribbled: time to use this area of the blog for more considered notes on the themes that have come to dominate: children’s literature and outdoors, and more specifically how do authors of books for young children depict outdoors.


Following initial explorations of themes around woodland and children’s stories, such as this and more recently this I want to look at this issue:

What themes can be discerned in the depiction of the outdoors environment in young children’s picture books?

It has pedagogical implications, in that a growing amount of literature suggests that children (and their parents) are finding access to outdoor play problematic, and that this access is being facilitated in a number of ways by schools. However, I would like to take the critical standpoint of viewing the books I critique as part of a sub-genre of literature rather than as pedagogical tools. This gives the focus back to the author and text/illustrations, and would allow me to explore the works in more critical depth, drawing on historically embedded themes from traditional tales (Jacobs, Grimm, Perrault, in critical work such as Zipes and Beckett), as well as psychoanalysis (Donald Winnicott, Sigmund Freud, Eric Berne) and current literary theory, particularly (perhaps) recent developments in ecocriticism.