Children's and Youth Literature Writer's and Reviewer's Guide/Educational Aspects

Educational aspectsEdit

Novel-reading is the worst thing for children, since they can make no further use of it, and it merely affords them entertainment for the moment. Novel-reading weakens the memory. For it would be ridiculous to remember novels in order to relate them to others. Therefore all novels should be taken away from children. Whilst reading them they weave, as it were, an inner romance of their own, rearranging the circumstances for themselves; their fancy is thus imprisoned, but there is no exercise of thought.

—On education[1], Immanuel Kant

The role of literature in upbringing and educationEdit

Societal perspective-takingEdit

Societal perspective-taking describes understanding for the influence of sociocultural backgrounds and societal value systems on the perspectives of otherwise possibly different-minded observers and is thus more developed than perspective-taking of children, which usually does not require understanding beyond a given situation and the persons immediately involved in the situation. Other than children teenagers may begin to develop a degree of understanding for societal perspectives. Societal perspective-taking can be furthered with storylines that relate the influence of sociocultural backgrounds and societal value systems or motivate to consider their influence. The promotion of perspective-taking is indirectly conducive to emotional intelligence and creativity.


Training metacognitionEdit

Deductions and theory formationEdit

Deductions and theory formation are encouraged in novels that allow extensive speculation about the plot or events and issues on the fringe of the story that may nevertheless be interesting for the reader. As an author you can encourage speculation with a constructivist approach. The reader can be allowed to try out different ways to disassemble or assemble the given information in order to make sense of it or in order to build a greater understanding than any or most of the characters in the novel. The third-person limited narrative and an unreliable narrator can, for instance, contribute to the motivation of the reader to form an independent view of the events, especially if other characters of the novel do appear to disagree with the views or understanding of the narrator.

The author as an ethicistEdit

Moral culture must be based upon 'maxims', not upon discipline; the one prevents evil habits, the other trains the mind to think. We must see, then, that the child should accustom himself to act in accordance with 'maxims' and not from certain ever-changing springs of action. Through discipline we form certain habits, moreover, the force of which becomes lessened in the course of years. The child should learn to act according to 'maxims', the reasonableness of which he is able to see for himself. One can easily see that there is some difficulty in carrying out this principle with young children, and that moral culture demands a great deal of insight on the part of parents and teachers.

—On education[1], Immanuel Kant

The role of the author as an ethicist could be seen to contradict the use of an unreliable narrator or moral theory formation at all. An ethicist may seem to require credibility that is at least missing in the novel itself, if characters and the narrator make dubious moral evaluations. Especially children, who may not make a proper moral evaluation themselves, are unlikely to recognize the author as an independent entity. The role of the author is, of course, to motivate moral evaluation and thus to pose relevant, interesting or educational questions.

Inside the story, especially in children's literature, the author can establish an entity that takes the role of an ethicist but may not always be available or the author can make the narrator resolve moral dilemmas at some point in the novel. An unreliable narrator can reestablish a degree of credibility by referring to an ethicist inside or outside of the novel for the purpose.


  1. a b Kant, Immanuel (1900) [Compiled 1803 by Theodor Rink]. On education (Über Pädagogik). trans. Annette Churton, introd. by C. A. Foley Rhys Davids. (1 ed.). Boston: Heath. OCLC 2342855.