Reading for Learning
Cognitive approaches to children's literature
How does reading fiction affect young people? How can they transfer fictional experience into real life? Why do they care about fictional characters? How does fiction enhance young people's sense of self-hood? Supported by cognitive psychology and brain research, this ground-breaking book is the first study of young readers' cognitive and emotional engagement with fiction. It explores how fiction stimulates perception, attention, imagination and other cognitive activity, and opens radically new ways of thinking about literature for young readers. Examining a wide range of texts for a young audience, from picturebooks to young adult novels, the combination of cognitive criticism and children’s literature theory also offers significant insights for literary studies beyond the scope of children’s fiction. An important milestone in cognitive criticism, the book provides convincing evidence that reading fiction is indispensable for young people’s intellectual, emotional and social maturation.
[Children’s Literature, Culture, and Cognition, 3] 2014. viii, 247 pp.
Publishing status: Available
© John Benjamins Publishing Company
Table of Contents
What is cognitive criticism and what's in it for children's literature research?
Chapter 1. Knowledge of the world
Chapter 2. Three possible worlds
Chapter 3. Knowledge of other people
Chapter 4. Creative mind-reading
Chapter 5. Knowledge of self
Chapter 6. Memory of the present
Chapter 7. Ethical knowledge
Chapter 8. The ethics of address and the ethics of response
How to read a children's book and why
“Nikolajeva brings her wide reading in cognitive literary study into productive interaction with her deep knowledge of children’s literature. The result is a learned and lucid volume, a work of interest to experts in children’s literature and cognitive critics alike. Moreover, Nikolajeva’s conclusions about the value of literary reading extend beyond children’s literature, carrying significant and salutary implications for literary study at all ages.”
Patrick Colm Hogan, University of Connecticut
“ Reading for Learning is part detailed introduction to a rapidly developing discipline (‘literary critics are fascinated by the new vistas opened up by brain research’), part passionate polemic (‘reading is social justice’), part lively analyses of children’s picture books and novels, and part survey of the connections between criticism, psychology and literacy. As an ‘open-ended exploration’ of the rapidly-developing inter-disciplinary field of Cognitive Criticism, it is timely, highly readable, and, like the rest of Nikolajeva’s work, elegantly authoritative.”
Peter Hunt, University of Cardiff
“This book offers scholars of children's literature a smart new way of addressing the field's key questions. What do children learn from children's literature? How do we know? An important intervention, and a must-read for anyone interested in not just how we read, but why.”
Philip Nel, Kansas State University
“Maria Nikolajeva has given us a brilliant and engaging synthesis of cognitive literary criticism. The work is unforgettable in its applications of this criticism to works of children's literature across the ages. She makes a compelling case for the essential role of this literature in the maturation of children's comprehension of themselves and others in the worlds of fiction and fantasy.”
Shirley Brice Heath, Stanford University
“In this masterful introduction to the possibilities of bringing cognitive criticism into productive conversation with children's literature, Nikolajeva exposes and goes some way to correct a blind spot in each field. In both her theoretical explanations and her close readings of children's texts, she demonstrates that while children's literature can be better understood and interpreted through an understanding of how particular cognitive functions such as memory, perception, attention, and empathy make it possible for young readers to engage with fiction, cognitive criticism itself can be further nuanced by a frank recognition of the cognitive andaffective differences between adult and child readers. Her focus on how and what kinds of knowledge are made available through fiction and her emphasis on the ethics of narrative will invigorate discussions of ideological interpellation and transformation as other scholars will surely be inspired to take up her challenge to enter this crucial conversation. As in all of her previous work, Nikolajeva refines and redefines the field of children's literature criticism, pointing an exciting and vibrant way forward.”
Karen Coats, Illinois State University
“Maria Nikolajeva gives us the science of cognitive criticism in all itsbreathtaking complexity and applies it to children's literature in ways that enhance rather than diminish the poetry and poetics of narrative art. Taking us to Where the Wild Things Are, Narnia, Oxford, and Panem, she deftly combines evidence with intuition to show how counterfactuals open up minds and rewire our brains. Reading for Learning is as adventurous, engaging, and persuasive as the literary minds and worlds it explores.”
Maria Tatar, Harvard University
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Literature & Literary Studies
BIC Subject: JNFD – Literacy strategies
BISAC Subject: LAN010000 – LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Literacy