Cover Image: Kid Lit

Kid Lit

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Member Reviews

No matter where we turn, narratives are at every corner.

The author brilliantly places the various components of classic stories in a realm accessible by youth.

From the typical coming-of-age stories to the magical tales that captivate young minds, Kid Lit provides the foundation necessary to read between the lines of any fictional narrative and extract the message.


This was my favorite nonfiction book of the year by far. Kid Lit forced me to step back and look at literature as more than just an art form used to escape daily life. I would recommend Kid Lit to anyone, especially ELA teachers and parents.
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Interesting book! I think it might be more for the teacher and parent than the kid.
Teaching kids to have critical thinking and communication skills from a young age using literature = YES!
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Although aimed at secondary school pupils, Kid Lit has opened my eyes to some of the literature I've read, so that its viewed from a different perspective.
Very well written, critically of course- Kid Lit also shares detailed lesson plans and ideas for the examination of the literature children read.
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What a brilliant addition to any teacher of English's bookshelf! It is rare in my experience, to address literary criticism, with pupils younger than those studying at A level and beyond. This book offers the opportunity to present (in a more basic format) the idea of criticism and identifying patterns in themes to much younger children. The author essentially is offering a chance to get pupils to think for themselves, and 'analyze why things happen.' I have never thought to apply criticism to junior fiction, but this book has made me rethink my approach.

Section One 'The Critical Toolbox' offers a good introduction that could be used with any reading analysis at any age. The second section shows this in action, but in higher level and is possibly more informative for the teachers than pupils. The final section will help you to put into action what you have learnt.

I love that much of the writing used for analysis comes from recent popular culture (movie and books) which makes the ideas accessible and tangible.

Recommended for anyone teaching children that wants to encourage deeper thinking.
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Kid Lit by Tom Durwood is a book built around a topic I find both fascinating and entertaining. It describes how to look more closely into the books and other media geared for children and teens in order to enhance the experience by discovering symbolism and deeper meaning. It not only discusses possible ways of viewing different genres of media but also gives examples from experts on the meanings and influences behind many popular kids' media franchises such as Star Wars and Harry Potter.

There is much to admire about this book. First, the insights given are interesting to read and then to ponder as you move on to other books. There are plenty of takeaways that may enhance the reader's relationship with other media. However, Durwood asserts that each of the explanations and critiques given in the book is only an opinion and should be examined by each individual in light of their own life experience and knowledge base. He does not wish for readers to take every assertion in the book as solid truth and encourages us to think for ourselves. I appreciated this aspect of Durwood's work most of all. The final section of the book is written to students in the form of assignments for a literature class. While it may not seem relevant to the average reader, for teachers of literature or students wishing to practice with the concepts put forward in the book, this might be a valuable addition. 

One problem with this book is that it is, in no way, linear. Durwood explores different themes and literary selections in what sometimes seems a very disjointed manor. If you are looking for a straight forward guide to literary analysis, this is not the book for you. If, however, you are comfortable with a meandering discourse on the meanings and influences behind some familiar and not-so-familiar kids' media, you may want to give it a try. One other note is that this book does not deal entirely with traditional literature; in fact, film seems to be discussed as much if not more than books. 

The bottom line: While this book was not exactly what I expected to read, there was definitely information within its pages that made me think and that I will take with me as I explore books, film, and other media in the future. If you are a teacher, parent or high school or college student interested in reading beyond the surface stories in literature, this book gives you a place to start.
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Thank you to NetGalley for an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book, I thought it was really interesting and I'm glad I got to read it.
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A nice introduction into going deeper into a piece of literature than just the text using children's literature as the main examples.  Short, which both makes it a breezy overview but also makes it somewhat superficial at points. 
 Focuses a lot on the Campbellian hero's journey, which makes sense given the coming of age narratives of a lot of children's literature.  It also has a major focus on Orientalism and the literature of empire, which is very interesting.  I liked how the book was split into traditional textbook-like passages, interviews with scholars studying children's lit, and lesson plan/assignment guides.
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Love this book! I wish this had been around when I was in college; I think it would pair well with any theater, film or lit class (classic, adult, childrens, etc...). It really explains well what makes a great story in easy terms. So concise. Doesn't talk down to students, but leads them to actual critical thinking of what they are watching or reading.  Kudos Tom Durwood- well done!
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This felt oddly shoddy and rushed, which is not what I was expecting from the author. Maybe it was an ARC formatting problem, but the text was very poorly organized and difficult to read. There were a number of odd errors and oversights, such as the uncritical inclusion of Little House on the Prairie without contextualizing recent debates; referencing ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE NORTH and LYRA'S OXFORD but not knowing LA BELLE SAUVAGE is out, despite talking about the HIS DARK MATERIALS television adaptation; and calling Grace Lin Chinese-American (she's Taiwanese-American).
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Kid Lit is an absolutely valuable scholarly resource. Durwood’s work is useful  for both student and teacher, and is ripe for dialogue and engagement around journeys through text.
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