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Autumn Term 2016


Required reading will be assigned for each week but you are expected to immerse yourself in and reflect upon the world of children's literature, film, television, theatre, etc., as much as possible. If there isn't an assigned work of fiction you should try to find at least one work intended for children and reflect upon it each week.


Week 1: Introductory week

This week we will be thinking about the narrative experiences of childhood and then considering what exactly the overarching question of the course means to each of you: "How can I help a child develop as an ethical being?"

Required Reading:

  • Bowen, E. 1986 [1946]. 'Out of a Book', in The Mulberry Tree, London, Virago, pp.48-53. Which can be found by here.
  • Greene, G. 1951. 'The Lost Childhood', in The Lost Childhood and Other Essays, London, Eyre & Spottiswoode, pp.13-17. Which can be found here.


When reading these, try to think:

  • Do you identify with what the author is saying?
  • Have you had any similar experiences? If so, can you think of examples?
  • They don't necessarily have to be experiences with books, has any other medium made you feel similarly?
  • If not, why do you think you haven't had such an experience?
  • Do you believe the author that they've really had these experiences?
  • These pieces are written in the mid-1900s by an Irish and English author (respectively) - do you think this influences anything in their standpoints?


Week 2: Philosophical approaches to ethical development and literature

This week we will be looking at how the discipline of philosophy has traditionally approached questions such as: What does it mean to be a good person? How do we develop our moral sensibilities and ethical reasoning? What is childhood? What role do literary (and other) narratives play in these?

This week may have the most reading. However, these are all short extracts and are tackling some of the core, theoretical elements of the module so it is imperative to familiarise yourself with this material. Please do put the time aside to read it all!

Remember, the question that you are asking is "How can I help a child develop as an ethical being?" Even if you're struggling to get to grips with any of the ideas, jot down anything in the paper that you think will help you answer that question!

Required Reading:

  • Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, section II.1-4, in A new Aristotle Reader, ed. J. L. Ackrill, Oxford, Clarendon. Found here.
  • Gooderham, David. 1993. ‘Still Catching Them Young? The Moral Dimension in Young Children’s Books’, Celebrating Children’s Literature in Education, Vol. 24, No. 2, pp.115-122. Found here.
  • Lafollette, Hugh. 2014. 'Theorizing about Ethics', in Ethics in practice: an anthology, Chichester, Wiley Blackwell, pp.3-10. Found here.
  • Mills, C. 2014. 'Introduction', in Ethics and Children's Literature, ed. Claudia Mills, Farnham, Ashgate, pp.1-14. Found here.
  • Buckingham, W. 2009. Finding our Sea Legs: Ethics, Experience, and the Ocean of Stories, Kingston, Kingston University Press, pp.1-15. Found here.


Week 3: Creating works for children (Guest: Laura Wood)

This week we will practically engage with creating pieces for children alongside Warwick graduate and award-winning children's author Dr Laura Wood. We will consider what role, if any, ethical considerations play in this process and if such a process actually does or should have room for the thoughts and theories we have been discussing.

Required Reading:

  • Durant, A. 2013. 'An Introduction to...Alan Durant', in Talking Books: Children's authors talk about the craft, creativity, and process of writing, ed. James Carter, London, Routledge, pp.162-177. Chapter can be found here. Talking Books found here.
  • Gaydon, P. 2015. ‘An Interview with Anne Fine’, Exchanges: the Warwick Research Journal, 2:2, pp.184-205. Found here.
  • Molesworth, M. 1976 [1893]. 'On the Art of Writing Fiction for Children', A Peculiar Gift, ed. Lance Salway, Harmondsworth, Kestrel Books, pp.340-346. Found here.


Week 4: Psychological approaches to ethical development and parenting (Guest: Ameerah Khadaroo)

This week we will explore psychological theories concerning the moral development of children with Ameerah Khadaroo from the Department of Psychology and discuss them in relation to a well-known, and still popular, work of children's fiction. We will analyse whether the models and process we have already looked at need adapting to these approaches and how they might impact upon your answering the module's overarching question.

Required Reading:

  • Wilson, J. 2006. Bad Girls, London, Corgi Yearling. Copies are available in the library, can be purchased on Amazon, or are likely to be available in local libraries in their children's section.
  • Flemming, J. S. 2008. 'Piaget, Gilligan, and Others on Moral Reasoning', in Psychological Perspectives on Human Development, Southwest Psychometrics and Psychology Resources [online]. Can be found here.
  • Nicholls, S. 2015. 'Why children's authors shouldn't always 'kill the parents'', The Guardian Online, 01/09/2015. Found here.


Have a think:

  • If you have any relevant experiences with children, or know someone who does who you can speak to, think about the questions presented at the end of the Flemming paper. Particualrly question 4.
  • What is parenting? Is there anything a good parent has to do? What is the goal of parenting? What should the goal be?
  • Apply question 5 to Bad Girls. What parenting styles are illustrated in the book? What are the reprecussions of these?
  • How do each of the character's ethical character and how they approach ehtical decisions change throughout the book? Who, if anyone, has the most impact on these?

Extra reading to take you further...

  • Sainsbury, L. 2013. Ethics in British Children’s Literature, London, Bloomsbury, pp.31-40 offer an ethical analysis of Bad Girls, extract can be found here.


Week 5: Rights and responsibilities (Guest: Alison Struthers)

This week we will delve into the question of how we tackle the issue of rights with children along with Dr Alison Struthers from the School of Law who is currently working on a book on human rights for children. We will encounter questions such as: Should we teach children that there are some rights which are universal and unquestionable? How do we help children understand their own and other's rights and the responsibilities they bring with them? When others infringe on these rights in dark or serious ways, how do we tackle such difficult subject matter with children? We will pay particular attention to one of the most notoriously difficult clashes of rights to negotiate when it comes to childhood: the right of the child to freely choose their own actions vs the responsibility of an adult/parent/society to enforce what they deem to be the best course of action for a child.

Required Reading:

  • Amnesty International (ed.) 2016. Here I Stand: Stories that Speak for Freedom, London, Walker Books. Copies are available in the library and can be purchased on Amazon or found in local libraries.
  • Struthers, A. 2016. 'Human Rights: A Topic Too Controversial for Mainstream Education?', Human Rights Law Review, 16, pp.131-162. Found here.


Week 6: "The next generation will fix it." Ecological concern

This week we will explore how children are depicted in relation to the growing burden of helping the world adapt to or halt our impact upon a changing environment. Is it their moral responsibility to do something? If it is, how should we approach educating them for these duty? We will pay close attention to the way theatre techniques have been used in the classroom to develop emotional empathy in children in relation to ecological concerns.

Required Reading:

  • Bigger, S. & Webb, J. 2010. 'Developing environmental agency and engagement through young people's fiction', Environmental Education Research, 16:3-4, pp.401-414. Found here.
  • McNaughton, M. J. 2007. 'Educational drama in the teaching of education for sustainability', Environmental Education Research, 10:2, pp.139-155. Found here.


Week 7: Scaring them into being good: horror for children

This week we explore the use of ghosts, goblins, and all the other things that go bump in the night in children's narratives. We will ask whether it is OK to use scare tactics to help children learn a moral lesson and, if it is, is there a limit? Is there a difference between saying "if you pull faces and the wind changes it will stay that way" and showing a child a film where the naughty protagonist meets a gruesome and grizzly end? If we do use such tactics, do we run the risk of traumatising a child, and, if so, is this an acceptable risk?

Required Reading:

  • Reynolds, K. 2007. ‘Frightening Fiction: The Transformative Power of Fear’, in Radical Children’s Literature, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp.131-154. Found here.
  • Wheatley, H. 2012. 'Uncanny Children, Haunted Houses, Hidden Rooms: Children's Gothic
    Television in the 1970s and '80s', Visual Culture in Britain, 13:3, pp.383-397. Found here.


Week 8: Tackling the darker side: abuse and neglect

This week we will discuss how abuse and neglect affect moral development in children and look at how Anne Fine's The Tulip Touch tackles such a sensitive topic and how other authors theorise approaching such issues.

Required Reading:

  • Fine, A. 1997. The Tulip Touch, London, Puffin. Availble in the Library, on Amazon, and likely available in local libraries in their children's section.
  • Howard, Ellen. 1988. ‘Facing the Dark Side in Children’s Books’, The Lion and the Unicorn, 12:1, pp.7-11. This can be found here.
  • Revisit 'Harvester Road' by John Boyne in Here I Stand from week 5.


Extra reading to take you further...

  • Sainsbury, L. 2013. Ethics in British Children’s Literature, London, Bloomsbury, pp.58-70 offer an ethical interpretation of The Tulip Touch, found here.
  • Fine, A. 2013. Blood Family, Corgi - the story of a foster-child trying to cope with the 'evil' of his abusive father and his fear that he will end up just like him


Week 9: "Who am I?" Representing minorities and translating children's literature

This week we will explore what the publishing market looks like in relation to the representation of minorities in Britain, the translation of works of fiction from other cultures, whether the situation is similar in other mediums, and what, if any, impact a lack of exposure to characters who represent one's own ethnicity, religion, and so on, might have on a child's ethical development.

Required reading:

  • Hinderer, M. 2014. 'Talking to Children about Race: Children's Literature in a Segregated Era, 1930-1945', in Ethics and Children's Literature, ed. Claudia Mills, Farnham, Ashgate, pp.41-53. Found here.
  • Rasheed, L. 2015. 'Children's Literature: for white children only?', Vulpes Libris [online], 28/09/15. Found here.
  • Williams, S. 2014. ‘Fireflies, Frogs, and Geckoes: Animal Characters and Cultural Identity in Emergent Children’s Literature’, New Review of Children’s Literature and Librarianship, pp.100-111. Found here.


Week 10: Character education in the classroom (Guest: Des Hewitt)

The final week will see us joined by Professor Des Hewitt, Head of Primary Teacher Education at Warwick's Centre for Education Studies. We will use his insight and our own developing understanding of the central question of the module to analyse current practice in schools surrounding 'character education'. What is this? Is it a good thing? What characteristics should we be seeking to develop in our children, and so on.

Required Reading:

  • 2016. Character, Values, and Ethics, Research Intelligence, BERA, Iss. 130, pp.11-24. Found here.
  • Harrison, T., Bawden, M. & Rogerson, L. 2016. Teaching Character Through Subjects, Jubilee Centre [online]. Found here.
  • Have a think and a search: what are the potential issues with character education?


Further Reading

The following is by no means an exhaustive list, it is just some of what I believe to be very valuable texts to read and I've included reasons as to why after each entry. Once you've picked a topic you should definitely expand your research horizons outside of this list!

  • Allan, C. 2012. Playing with Picturebooks, Basingstoke, Palgrave – offers an insight into how contemporary picturebooks are playing with form to create new modes of engagement for the reader. Those of you focusing on other mediums may want to look at this and the Tandoi paper below to consider how medium can affect how messages and ideas are portrayed
  • Brighouse, H. & Swift, A. 2013. 'Parents' Rights and Responsibilities', The International Encyclopedia of Ethics, H. LaFollette (ed.), BlackWell Publishing Ltd., pp.3803-3811, online and accessible using university login - a brief overview of the key considerations and debates regarding the role, rights, and responsibilities of parents
  • Brighouse, H. & Swift, A. 2014. Family Values: The Ethics of Parent-Child Relationships, Princeton, Princeton University Press - esp. chapter 6: 'Shaping Values' – a philosophical exploration of the parent-child relationship and the duty of parent’s within that to shape a child’s values. Key focus is on developing a condition by which we can measure when it is morally permissible to favour one's own children
  • Dresang, Eliza T. ‘The Resilient Child in Contemporary Children’s Literature: Surviving Personal Violence’, Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, 22:3, pp.133-141 – to further explore the concept of ‘resilience’ in children’s literature and how it can be a moral characteristic insofar as it allows us to continue to function after trauma
  • Demers, P. (ed.) 2008. From Instruction to Delight: An Anthology of Children’s Literature to 1850, Ontario, Oxford University Press – a great collection of excerpts from and overviews of the ethical trends in children’s literature from before the ‘turning point’ of children’s literature in the 1850s
  • Heyman, G. & Lee, K. 2012. ‘Moral Development: Revisiting Kohlberg’s stages’, Developmental Psychology: Revisiting the Classic Studies, A. Slater & P. Quinn (eds.), London, Sage, pp.164-175 – to further understand and read Kohlberg in a contemporary light
  • Koenig, A., Cicchetti, D., & Rogosch, F. 2004. 'Moral Development: The Association between Maltreatment and Young Children's Prosocial Behaviours and Moral Transgressions', Social Development, 13:1, pp.87-106 – an empirically informed discussion of how maltreatment affects moral development
  • Kreps, J. & Gonzalez, T. 2010. 'The Effects of Maltreatment on Children's Moral Development', unpublished, CalPoly website - an undergraduate dissertation so to be read with critical caution but the most complete discussion of this topic that I could find

  • Mills, C. (ed.). 2014. Ethics and Children’s Literature, Farnham, Ashgate – a couple of chapters will be used from this book during the module but the whole thing is very useful for a variety of topics
  • Narvaez, D. & and Lapsley, D. 2014. ‘Becoming a Moral Person’, in Empirically Informed Ethics: Morality between Facts and Norms, eds. M. Christen et al., pp.227-238 – for an example of how psychology and philosophy can intertwine to help us understand ethical development
  • Nikolajeva, M. 2014. Reading for Learning: Cognitive approaches to children’s literature, Amsterdam, John Benjamins – chapters 7 and 8 are highly relevant for the course but the entire book is good if you are wanting to grapple with how children learn from literature and cognitively develop
  • Nikolajeva, M. & Scott, C. 2001. How Picturebooks Work, New York, Garland Publishing – a great place to begin when trying to understand picturebooks and how they affect children
  • Sainsbury, L. 2013. Ethics in British Children’s Literature, London, Bloomsbury – some extracts were already suggested as reading on the course but the whole book is a great resource as Sainsbury is well versed both in children’s literature and ethical theory
  • Salway, L. (ed.) 1976. A Peculiar Gift, Harmondsworth, Kestrel Books – one of the essays from this book was used in week 3 but it really is a goldmine of opinions on writing for children and what children’s literature should be from the nineteenth-century
  • Sipe, L. 1998. 'How Picture Books Work', Children's Literature in Education, 29: 2, pp.97-108 - a great introduction to the way picture books create extra room for meaning-making and creativity. Found here.
  • Strawson, G. 2016. ‘You Cannot Make Yourself the Way You Are’, A Very Bad Wizard, ed. Taylor Sommers, London, Routledge, pp.3-16 - a fantastic and accessible interview that will push your thinking on whether we’re actually free or have free will, and, if not, does that mean it is even possible to be an ethical being? Found here.
  • Tandoi, E. 2014. ‘Unruly Girls and Unruly Language: Typography and Play in David Almond’s My Name is Mina’, Journal of Children’s Literature Research, Vol. 37, Barnbroken [online] – a good example of an analysis that looks beyond the narrative of a text into how the form of a piece can affect the reader's thinking
  • Tatar, M. 2009. Enchanted Hunters: the power of stories in childhood, New York, W. W. Norton – as it says in the title, an accessible exploration of exactly what role and power stories have in our childhood
  • Wonderly, M. 2009. 'Children's film as an instrument of moral education', Journal of Moral Education, 38, pp.1-15 - for those of you wanting to follow up on film and narrative rather than literature