Canons and Censorship

The work listed here is about various issues relating to what children should and shouldn’t read: which books are important, which books should be banned, which books represent specific cultures or groups or national identities.


We Are Still All, Censors–and that Includes Perry Nodelman

In 1992, I wrote an essay called “We Are All Censors,” in which I offered my opinions about censorship in the world of children’s books and culture. It was published by the journal then called Canadian Children’s Literature. Almost three decades later, I received an email from a representative of the Brazilian children’s literature journal and publisher Emilia, asking if they might republish this old essay in a Portuguese translation. Not having looked at the essay for many years, I reread it–and then told the people at Emilia that, having changed my mind about various things as the years passed, I really didn’t like the idea if the essay appearing now in a different context. They then suggested the possibility of a small book, with the original essay accompanied by a new one talking about how my views had changed and why. That seemed fair to me, and I proceded to write the new essay. Emilia published the book containing both essays in Portuguese in August 2020.

Somos mesmo todos censores?

You can download a PDF of the original essay first published in 1992 here:

We Are All Censors

And you can read an English version of the newer essay here:

We Are Still All, Censors–and that Includes Perry Nodelman

Afterword: Propaganda, Namby-Pamby, and Some Books of Distinction (an appendix to Dictionary of Literary Biography 52. Twentieth Century American Children’s Writers, ed. Glenn E. Estes. Gale Research, 1986. This essay surveys children’s literature produced in the USA in the first eight decades of the twentieth century.)

“Canadian”? “Children’s” “Literature”? (an editorial questioning the meanings and implications of the three words in the name of the journal it was published in)

Children’s Literature by American Women: 1900 to the Present

Children’s Literature Canon Comment, 1981

Editorial: On Three Degrees of Censorship

Editor’s Comments: Is Democracy Good for Literary Criticism? (from 1985: Why some people think it is anti-democratic and elitist to believe that some views of literary texts are more worthwhile than others, and why having opinions about literature is different from having prejudices about it)

Editor’s Comments (on a canon of children’s literature)

Grand Canon Suite: An early report on the deliberations of the Children’s Literature Association Canon Committee and my response to them, before my my involvement with the committee

Introduction [to thinking about a “canon” of children’s literature]: Matthew Arnold, A Teddy Bear, and a List of Touchstones

Outside Looking In, Inside Looking Out (on studying texts of Canadian children’s literature)

Sneaking Past the Border Guards: Children’s Book Awards and National Borders ((a consideration of a range of borders that relate to children’s literature studies: between children’s and adult literature, between children’s literatures produced in different countries, between children’s and YA literature, between the kinds of children’s books deemed eligible for various awards. etc.)

Touchstones: A List of Distinguished Children’s Books (This pamphlet, published in 1982, lists the books chosen by a committee of the Children’s Literature Association as an effort to identify especially noteworthy texts for young readers. It was the basis for the three volume collection of essays about each of the title. for more information about the reasoning behind the project, see the introduction to that series): Matthew Arnold, A Teddy Bear . . .

We Are All Censors

What’s Canadian about Canadian Children’s Literature? A Compendium of Answers to the Question (A number of authors, academics, and others involved with Canadian literature for young people offer answers to the question)

%d bloggers like this: