Reading, Resistance, and Political Agency

  • Elisabeth Rose GrunerEmail author
Part of the Critical Approaches to Children's Literature book series (CRACL)


This chapter continues the exploration of power and agency by focusing specifically on reading and citizenship. In a variety of disparate works—from historical fiction to dystopian literature, high fantasy to contemporary fantasy—literacy is central to political agency. These novels reflect contemporary anxieties about surveillance, totalitarianism, racial oppression, and other forms of civic disempowerment. The stakes of adolescent literacy are high, these novels suggest, because it is so critical to a particular kind of political engagement: both critically aware and empathic. While reading becomes part of a system of resistance to oppression, not all YA authors are equally sanguine about its potential: empathy, critical analysis, or political awareness may and often do fail, singly or together. Reading is the necessary but not sufficient precondition, these novels suggest, for an engaged citizenry.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RichmondUSA

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