The Courage to Imagine

The Child Hero in Children's Literature

by Roni Natov

Series: Bloomsbury Perspectives on Children's Literature

The act of imagining lies at the very heart of children's engagements with literature and with the plots and characters they encounter in their favorite stories. The Courage to Imagine is a landmark new study of that fundamental act of imagining. Roni Natov focuses on the ways in which children's imaginative engagement with the child hero figure can open them up to other people's experiences, developing empathy across lines of race, gender and sexuality, as well as helping them to confront and handle traumatic experience safely. Drawing on a wide range of theoretical approaches from the psychological to the cultural and reading a multicultural spectrum of authors, including works by Maya Angelou, Louise Erdrich, Neil Gaiman and Brian Selznick, this is a groundbreaking examination of the nature of imagining for children and re-imagining for the adult writer and illustrator.

In The Press

Natov pulls from a variety of children's and young adult books, including Dahl's Matilda, Myers' Monster, and Selznick's The Inventions of Hugo Cabret, to explore how diversity and difference, trauma, empathy, politics, and identity in literature can encourage young readers to engage with experiences both similar to and different from their own.

About The Author

Roni Natov is Professor of English at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, USA. A multi-award winning teacher and scholar, she is the founding editor of The Lion and the Unicorn: A Critical Journal of Children's Literature and her previous publications include The Poetics of Childhood (2005).