‘Once Upon Many Times Little Red Riding Hood’: Introducing Contemporary Children’s Literature to Senior Learners


Inspired by the idea of Lifelong Education, the University of the Basque Country decided to open its academic program to senior learners, creating the ‘Experience Classroom’ College. This college, aimed at people over 55 who are not currently working, offers a specific Degree in Human Sciences. One of the compulsory courses of this four-year degree is ‘Language and Literature’. The aim of this paper is to present the short-term project to teach children’s literature conducted in that course, in which we presented senior learners with a general overview of how the production of children’s literature has changed over recent decades. To do so, we analysed the intergenerational classic tale of the Little Red Riding Hood and compared its contemporary retellings. We chose this fairy tale since it is part of a global narrative tradition that has been reinterpreted throughout the history of children's literature according to the social, moral, and literary concerns of each moment. After concluding that most of the learners only knew the Brothers Grimm’s versions of the tale, we read both the Perrault and the Brothers Grimm versions and discussed their differences. In the subsequent lessons we brought 25 diverse contemporary retellings of the fairy tale including picturebooks, silent books, illustrated books, comics and verses. The chosen retellings enabled interesting discussions about psychological characterisation, social criticism, humour and parody, and visual codes concerning narrative and semantics. Ultimately, exploration of this book selection revealed to the senior learners the ways in which postmodern trends have become features that characterise contemporary children’s literature.

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