Musings on children's and YA literature, the academy, and the relationship between them, from an English professor and mother.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I just finished the third Tiffany Aching novel by Terry Pratchett, Wintersmith, and I can only hope there are more. (Check out the great review of all three books here.) I'm starting to think that a lot of children's fantasy is implicitly about gifted education: you take these "special" children (often with magical powers) and figure out how to help them use their gifts. Tiffany learns to be a witch in A Hat Full of Sky and Wintersmith, just as Harry is learning to be a wizard in the Potter series and Lyra has to learn to read the aletheiometer in The Golden Compass. (I could go on: Will Stanton in The Dark is Rising, Ged in A Wizard of Earthsea, various kids in the Chrestomanci books, the protagonists in Lowry's Giver series, Reason in Magic or Madness and Magic Lessons, etc.) I'm not quite sure what to say about this, except that the methods of education are quite different in all of these, and I'd be curious to know if the books appeal more to gifted than to other children, or whether there's any correlation at all between an appetite for fantasy and an interest in pedagogy.

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