Little Voices, Big Ideas

“Little Voices, Big Ideas” explores the rich and often surprising content of children’s books—and ways to have meaningful conversations about big ideas in little books with the children in our lives.

Hosted by mother of two and literacy educator, Sarah DeBacher, and with contributions from humanities scholars Drs. Helen Taylor, Thomas Wartenberg, and Freddi Evans, each episode offers historical, philosophical, and cultural connections, as well as practical advice for parents that will help listeners go beyond the bedtime story.

Made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is a partnership project of PRIME TIME Family Reading, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, WWNO New Orleans and WRKF Baton Rouge.

Maurice Sendak / Harper & Row

Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are, takes readers on an extraordinary journey into the imagination of the wildest thing of all--the young and precocious Max.

Banished to his bedroom for bad behavior, Max sails across weeks and over a year to the land of the wild things, a bunch of misbehaving creatures who want nothing more than to rumpus till they can rumps no more. But when the bandying about is over, Max discovers he misses his home, and the very person who banished him in the first place: his mother.

Holiday House / Holiday House

 

There’s plenty of attention given to the pursuit of “happily ever after” in stories of all sorts. But how should we go about acquiring happiness? Is there a right or wrong way to do it?

Anansi the spider, the thieving trickster at the heart of Eric Kimmel’s Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock, offers up an opportunity for pushing past mere moralizing toward more nuanced conversations about when tricks cross over into deception territory--and even when a seemingly harmless little lie may not be seen as such by others. 

 

E.B. Lewis / G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

Of all the difficult subjects deserving of discussion with children, race and racism are perhaps the most required, and least easy to address.

Jon Scieszka / Puffin Books

The big bad wolf shows up in many forms in children’s stories--even disguised as grandma--with the intention of teaching children to be wary of the bad guys out there. But is the big bad wolf really all that big and bad, or has he just been given a bad rap? And when we paint the bad guy with so broad a stroke, might we fostering binary thinking? 

Little Voices, Big Ideas: The Giving Tree

Dec 2, 2020

Episode 2 of “Little Voices, Big Ideas,” makes the case for discussing the big ideas found in the book that everyone loves to love--or loves to hate--Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.

Criticized for its seeming endorsement of feminine/maternal stereotypes, the book, argues our panel, nonetheless presents parents and children with a unique opportunity to hone critical thinking skills, and to discuss sustainability.

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