Should we burn Babar?: Essays on Children’s Literature and the Power of Stories

| April 26, 2011

book coverTitle: Should we burn Babar? : Essays on Children’s Literature and the Power of Stories
Author: Herbert Kohl
Publisher: New York : New Press : Distributed by W.W. Norton & Co., c1995
Check it out! PS153.M56 K65 1995

From the publisher: In “provocative and entertaining essays [that] will appeal to reflective readers, parents, and educators” (Library Journal), one of the country’s foremost education writers looks at the stories we tell our children. Available now in a revised edition, including a new essay on the importance of “stoop-sitting” and storytelling, Should We Burn Babar? challenges some of the chestnuts of children’s literature. Highlighting instances of racism, sexism, and condescension that detract from the tales being told, Kohl provides strategies for detecting bias in stories written for young people and suggests ways to teach kids to think critically about what they read.

Beginning with the title essay on Babar the elephant—“just one of a fine series of inquiries into the power children’s books have to shape cultural attitudes,” according to Elliott Bay Booknotes—the book includes essays on Pinocchio, the history of progressive education, and a call for the writing of more radical children’s literature. As the Hungry Mind Review concluded, “Kohl’s prescriptions for renewing our schools through the use of stories and storytelling are impassioned, well-reasoned, and readable.”

About the author: Herbert Kohl is the author of more than forty books, including the bestselling classic 36 Children. A recipient of the National Book Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, he was founder and first director of the Teachers & Writers Collaborative in New York City and established the PEN West Center in San Francisco, where he lives.

On the web: Visit Herbert Kohl’s website