John Brown and Children’s Literature

  • Tyler Hoffman


Many famous Americans leap to mind as candidates for treatment in historical novels for children, but perhaps not so much John Brown. Deborah Hopkinson, who wrote her series Prairie Skies (a series that includes Pioneer Summer, Cabin in the Snow, and Our Kansas Home) with an eye to second-graders, documents 1855 Kansas and the slavery question that raged there, but never mentions Brown. In a note (November 2004) to me, she explained “I originally thought I would use him [Brown], but deliberately chose not to use Brown in this work after reading more about him …. Brown’s activities in Kansas were pretty complex for the audience… I did try to give young readers a sense of the period by introducing different viewpoints and characters, but I shied away from including a lot of violence.”


Slave Owner Young Reader Historical Fiction Normative Femininity Violent Tactic 
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Copyright information

© Andrew Taylor and Eldrid Herrington 2005

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  • Tyler Hoffman

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