Whatʼs the point of engaging children and young adults?

by Nina Goga
Recent research on changes in literary conceptions of children and childhood have paid attention to how child agency is expressed both verbally and visually. This emphasis on child agency can be seen in connection with changes within educational thinking. As an example, one may point to how critical thinking is emphasised in the new Norwegian school curriculum, and to how UNESCO emphasises critical thinking competence as a key competence to secure sustainable development.

The material of this article is primarily book reviews, but also nomination texts and book presentations related to three environmentally and climate engaged nonfiction books for children. I examine here how adult reviewers and mediators of nonfiction for children relate to the idea that children and young adults have the right to question the practices and values adults are greatly responsible for.

To answer this, I first explain how I, in this article, understand the concept of agency, and which connection I see between this concept and the emphasis on critical thinking in the new Norwegian school curriculum, the Knowledge Promotion Reform 2020, and critical thinking as key competence for sustainable development. I then take a closer look at research examining how child agency is addressed in recent childrenʼs literature. Finally, building on these perspectives I carry out a theory-driven content analysis of the selected material examining how adult readers (a) evaluate the characteristic of successful knowledge dissemination in nonfiction addressing child readers, (b) comprehend the invitation to child agency as expressed in the three books, and (c) respond to this agency in relation to adultsʼ own role in society.

Read article (in Norwegian): https://www.idunn.no/blft/2021/01/hva_er_greia_med_aa_engasjere_barn_og_unge

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