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Active Listeners

Active Listeners

Child Auditors as Creative Collaborators

(p.37) Chapter One Active Listeners
Between Generations
Victoria Ford Smith
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter explores how Golden Age authors partnered with children in storyteller-auditor collaboration and represented those partnerships in their fictions. Moving from translations of the Grimms’ fairy tales to popular story collections by Mary Molesworth, Mary Cowden Clarke, and Margaret Gatty, the chapter reveals how storytelling scenes—both real gatherings that inspired these authors and fictional and illustrated moments of narration in their texts—were enriched by intergenerational collaboration based on active listening and critical response and provided opportunities for child agency. These creative partnerships are best read alongside shifting understandings of the relationship between children and language, and therefore the chapter traces theories of children’s language acquisition from the late eighteenth to early twentieth centuries, from Rousseau’s Émile to establishment of the field of Child Study at the fin-de-siècle.

Keywords:   collaboration, children’s literature, storytelling, child agency, Child Study

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