June 1, 2018

It's Not Fantasy. It's Preparation.

        On May 5, Maria Devlin McNair had a piece in the Boston Globe that you need to read.  It covers a whole slew of points that I’ve discussed in this blog before, including
        - The real-world inspiration that speculative fiction can provide, in this case, to the students who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and became powerful advocates for gun control.  As Anna Crean, one of the students, said, “We’ve grown up with teenagers in dystopian eras that have fixed everything and become the heroes of their city. Then they put us into a dystopian era in real life and they don’t expect us to do anything?  We can make a difference because that’s what books and movies have told us since we were little.”
        - How “children’s literature” can be as deep and complex as “serious literature” and grapple with the most profound moral issues.  As fantasy author Philip Pullman said, “There are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children’s book.”
        - How, indeed, the division between children’s and adult’s literature is somewhat artificial anyway.
        - How fantasy is not mere escapism.  It helps readers figure out possibilities of how they can live their actual lives in the actual world, and in particular
        - How the vision of Good is important for developing our own moral compasses.  As MG Prezioso of the Harvard Graduate School of Education said, “When you read those kinds of books. . . it’s inevitably inspiring because you see what can be. You are given this vision and trying to figure out different ways to make that vision a reality.”
        - How important it is that we are given a vision reminding us that the world is not inevitably doomed to remain as it is now.  As Denizcan James pointed out, students are seeing their world turn into “the entire plot of [Harry Potter] book 5 where the government refuses to do anything about a deadly threat so the teenagers have to rise up and fight back.”  And as teacher Jennifer Ansbach said of fantasy, “What, you thought it was fiction? It was preparation.”
        Go read the entire article here: How Children’s Literature Became Everybody’s Literature.

[Picture: Hogwarts Castle, wood block print by Brian Reedy of WoodcutEmporium.]

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