Originally Published: April 2014
by Leah Heilman Schanke
On April 8, Harold Underdown began his presentation by introducing the importance of Reader Response Theory in writing and editing children’s books. The theory focuses on the reader’s experience. While editors and writers also have a response, they primarily analyze plot, characters, setting, etc. But what happens when a child reads? It’s simply the response. The response differs individually because of what each reader brings to the story.
Underdown stated that Reader Response Theory is “every bit as important as what literary critics do in analyzing what a story means and how the writer accomplished it.” Underdown demonstrated by reading an excerpt of The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats without showing the illustrations. The response was the feeling of wonder and excitement. Underdown pointed out that the illustrations were not needed to “fall into [the character’s] story.” (more…)