Thesis

"A Fearsome Possibility": The Disabled Body in the Children's Novel

Disability affects everyone, either first-hand or indirectly. However, discussion of disability in our culture seems to be verboten. Disabled people make up our largest minority group, but perhaps fear of physical imperfection controls the silence about disability. Taking disability out of the "problem" sphere means discussing it openly, as early as possible. Children need to be in this discussion, since they notice difference in bodies and ask about it, and are often silenced for asking. An ideal place to start the dialogue of disability with children is in their literature. Since children's literature is used quite effectively to impart didactic knowledge, why not expand that knowledge to include disability? Children's books that teach about the experience of living with a disability are already in the canon -two books by E.B. White, Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan. They address the issue of living with disability in a proactive way. These two books break the silence about living with disability and are great learning opportunities for children.

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