Sex in Children's Literature

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When a person thinks of reading a children’s book, themes of sex, desire, and gender differences do not often come to mind. However, analyses of favorite children’s books such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, the fairytale “Sleeping Beauty”, and L.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, have proven that these themes actually do occur but in a hidden manner. It is only by critically reviewing these “children’s” texts do these so-called inappropriate themes appear. Lissa Paul wishes to address this theme of sex in her article “Sex and the Children’s Book,” which is based off a seminar she gave at CLISS 2. In her article, she begins by describing the evolution of sex education over time, then moves into addressing how countries handle the issue of sex education within their school systems. The reviewed article provides a detailed introduction into the issue of sex education throughout the years, however its analysis of the theme of sex in children’s books is lacking.

In order to understand what this article is lacking, a brief synopsis of the article must first be presented. Lissa Paul begins by addressing the idea that morality and instruction into all books (unclear?). However, when the books are aimed at child readers, there is usually an aspect of “fun” involved as well. She further elaborates that this concept of “fun” does not exist when the book revolves around the theme of sex education. As the article continues, Lissa Paul begins to analyze books of instructions, which being the first written forms to address this topic, are used by children or young adults throughout the years to “teach” them about sex education. The analysis starts with the fifteenth century Babees Book, and ends with a brief introduction to The Rules of the late twentieth century, which illustrate her general conclusion that the principle method of sex education is in the form of “don’ts.” The article continues to address the modern day version of sex education that is taught...
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