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Better than Billy Idol


Subversive, intelligent children's books.  Could I find a better topic to talk about?

The Little Rebels Children's Book Awards (administered by the UK's Letterbox Library as part of the Alliance of Radical Booksellersare a relatively new thing, having been around for only a few years (since 2013 it seems).  Is this because it is only recently that authors have felt the need to tackle big societal issues in children books?  I pondered this for a while and then realised that Dr. Seuss would argue with me (and win) on that point.

Let me start by saying that although I think the title "Little Rebels" is awesome, I am actually going to say that I think there should be nothing deemed "rebellious" about reading literature that encourages us to think and form our own opinions.  In fact, I dislike my own description of the nominees as "subversive", but I'll maintain that adjective to argue my point.  Subversion as a concept has such underhanded and negative connotations.  This is not the kind of judgement I wish to pass on these books.  They are informative, they are novel (pun fully intended) and they encourage questioning and thought.  Working in a school, I see a lot of teaching of facts and information, with the purpose being memorisation of that information to apply and/or recite under controlled circumstances.  The art and science of questioning, inquiry, debate and critical thought are there...... but do they feature boldly enough?  And so it falls to literature to fill in the gaps; to promote deeper thought, expose new and unknown situations, highlight things that once were or might have been or could be in the future.  To make you question the status quo, and in so doing, yourself.

OK, so I may have got a wee bit philosophical there, we are only talking of children's literature, but never underestimate how perceptive children can be - especially if you ask the right questions to guide them to think more deeply.  What better way to start that process than with a book that tackles just the kinds of themes you want to discuss?

Below is a link to the award's Wordpress site, including previous nominee lists and the current 2016 list:

Little Rebels Award

Get rebellious people, now is the time!


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