Here’s a list of what I’ve read – for anyone interested. (Last updated 9 March 2011)

Children’s Lit – General

Allyn, Pam. What to Read When: The Books and Stories to Read with Your Child and All the Best Times to Read Them. New York: Avery/Penguin, 2009.

Bettelheim, Bruno. The Uses of Enchantment; The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. New York: Random House, 1975.  A very important work on the topic. Bettelheim defends fairy tales in their original form as necessary for a child’s healthy psychological development. Heavy Freudian going at times, but even if you don’t buy into that, there are a lot of fascinating insights. Highly recommended.

Brophy, Brigid; Levey, Michael; Osborne, Charles. Fifty Works of English and American Literature We Could Do Without. London: Rapp & Carroll, 1967. As the title suggests, a rather flippant trashing of 50 literary classics, including Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Huckleberry Finn… not to mention Hamlet! Interesting only as a curiosity.

Carpenter, Humphrey. Secret Gardens: The Golden Age of Children’s Literature. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1985. Focussing on British writers from about the 1840s up until the outbreak of WWI (with A.A. Milne as a late Edwardian holdover). Portrays arcadian writing for children as part of a general tendency towards idyllic, ruralist fantasy among many English authors of the time. Terrific overview and background to the classic titles.

Demers, Patricia & Moyles, Gordon, eds. From Instruction to Delight: An Anthology of Children’s Literature to 1850. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1982. Invaluable for the many examples of early books for children.

Eccleshare, Julia, ed. 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up. New York: Universe Publishing, 2009. The title made me roll my eyes, but not without interest. Part of a ludicrous series of “1001” must see, must hear, must reads in the current trend of ridiculous rankings and bucket lists. The scholarship is a little suspect (they actually confused Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens with the novel Peter Pan!), but it’s an interesting coffee table book to flip through with beautiful colour illustrations from said books. And the books are listed chronologically, which appeals to the historian in me…

Lanes, Selma G.  Down the Rabbit Hole; Adventures and Misadventures in the Realm of Children’s Literature. New York: Atheneum, 1971. Interesting especially for the essay “America as Fairy Tale”.

Lewis, C.S. Of Other Worlds; Essays and Stories. London: Geoffrey Bles, 1966. Contains essays on stories, fairy tales, and writing for children.

Lurie, Alison. Don’t Tell the Grown-ups. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1990. About the subversive nature of children’s literature: “… fairy tales, legends, rhymes, jokes, and superstitions can be used to express whatever is muted, suppressed, or compromised in mainstream culture.”

Meigs, Cornelia, et al (Anne Thaxter Eaton, Elizabeth Nesbitt, Ruth Hill Viguers)  A Critical History of Children’s Literature, Revised Edition, New York: Macmillan, 1969. Massive and authoritative!

Nel, Philip.  Dr. Seuss: American Icon. New York: Continuum, 2004.

Silvey, Anita. 100 Best Books for Children, Boston/New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2004.

Wullschläger, Jackie. Inventing Wonderland: The Lives and Fantasies of Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, J.M. Barrie, Kenneth Grahame, and A.A. Milne. London: Methuen, 1995. Same ground covered as Carpenter, but still fascinating, especially for historical context and biographical information.

Zipes, Jack. Sticks and Stones: the troublesome success of children’s literature from Slovenly Peter to Harry Potter. New York/London: Routledge, 2001. Essays on various topics, with titles like “The Cultural Homogenization of American Children” and “The Value of Evaluating the Value of Children’s Literature”.  A passionate defender of fairy tales.

Peter Pan

Barrie, J.M. Farewell Miss Julie Logan: A Barrie Omnibus. Glasgow: Canongate Classics, 2000. Includes the novel The Little White Bird.

Birkin, Andrew. J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003. Fascinating biography of Barrie focussing especially on his relationship with the Llewelyn-Davies family. Heartfelt and heartbreaking.

Hanson, Bruce K. The Peter Pan Chronicles; The Nearly 100 Year History of ‘The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up’. New York: Birch Lane Press, 1993.

Kavey, Allison B. and Friedman, Lester D. eds. Second Star to the Right: Peter Pan in the Popular Imagination. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2009. Scholarly essays about Peter Pan. Some murkiness, some jewels.

Rose, Jacqueline. The Case of Peter Pan: or The Impossibility of Children’s Fiction. London: Macmillan Press, 1984. A bit of a slog and full of alarmist language – her intent was to be controversial. “Children’s fiction is impossible, not in the sense that it cannot be written (that would be nonsense), but in that it hangs on an impossibility, one which it rarely ventures to speak. This is the impossible relation between adult and child.”

White, Donna R., and Tarr, C. Anita eds. J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan In and Out of Time; A Children’s Classic at 100. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press Inc., 2006. Scholarly essays about Peter Pan. Some murkiness, some jewels.

Children’s Television and Movies – General

Bazalgette, Cary, and Buckingham, David, eds. In Front of the Children: screen entertainment and young audiences. London: British Film Institute Publishing, 1995.

Burr, Ty. The Best Old Movies for Families. New York: Random House, 2007. Wonderful book. Terrific introduction makes a convincing case for showing our kids old movies.

Christakis, Dimitri A.  and Zimmerman, Frederick J. The Elephant in the Living Room: Making Television Work for Your Kids. New York: Rodale, 2006.

Fischer, Stuart. Kids’ TV; The First 25 Years. New York: Facts on File, 1983. A simple history, detailed and comprehensive.

Nichols, Peter M. The New York Times Essential Library : Children’s Movies: a critic’s guide to the best films available on video and DVD. New York: Times Books, 2003. Along with Ty Burr book, another excellent movie guide. This one however doesn’t focus just on old movies.

Turow, Joseph. Entertainment, Education, and the Hard Sell; Three Decades of Network Children’s Television, New York: Praeger, 1981. The title says it all – a good look at how market forces shaped children’s television.


Maltin, Leonard. The Disney Films; 4th Edition. New York: Disney Editions, 2000. Excellent reference material – non-critical!

Masters, Kim. The Keys to the Kingdom: How Michael Eisner Lost His Grip. New York: William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2000.

Sammond, Nicholas. Babes in Tomorrowland: Walt Disney and the Making of the American Child, 1930-1960. Durham/London: Duke University Press, 2005. Yowza! Dense and heavy going, but a lot of meat to it!

Schickel, Richard. The Disney Version: the Life, Times, Art and Commerce of Walt Disney (Revised and Updated). New York: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, 1968/1985. To counter the Maltin, here’s a brilliant, critical look at Disney.

General History & Miscellaneous

Armstrong, Karen. A Short History of Myth. Canada: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.

Heywood, Colin. A History of Childhood. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2001.


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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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