Date of Thesis

Spring 2023


This thesis explores the way children’s literature is a productive form for political commentary. I analyze how the genre of children’s literature allows authors the unexpected freedom to express the moral complexity of contemporary political problems. This form provides authors a space to comment upon complicated and sometimes controversial political discourse in a way they might not have the freedom to do otherwise writing explicitly for an adult audience. Amidst the argument that children’s literature as a form allows for authors to include political discourse, I also incorporate an examination of the audience of children’s literature to demonstrate the complexity of the form and who it is meant for. People often assume that children’s literature takes up simple topics and simple approaches to more complex topics, but I demonstrate how three classic works approach global political crises with unexpected complexity and nuance. To accomplish these objectives, I discuss these three primary texts among a collection of secondary scholarship to both add to and generate new conversation surrounding the form of children's literature and its potential purposes. The primary texts I analyze are The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling, published in 1894 and 1895, The Lion the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, published in 1950, and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, published in 1962.


children’s literature, representation, shifting identity, political discourse, complexity, audience

Access Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts


English- Literary Studies

Second Major

Political Science

Minor, Emphasis, or Concentration

Public Policy

First Advisor

Virginia Zimmerman

Second Advisor

Michael Drexler

Third Advisor

Bernhard Kuhn