“Somethings About Me”: Slanted Conventions in Children’s Letters to Beloved Authors

Keywords: letter writing, children's writing, archives, writing style, friendship


This article is a study of letters written by American children to authors of juvenile fiction. It emphasizes the rhetorical and material choices children made in bridging the distance between themselves as writers and the authors who were to receive the letters. Focused on notions of convention, the study uses the theoretical concept of the slant to analyze the way the child writers conformed to conventions of writing and communication while also rendering those expectations askew. Ultimately, the stylistic techniques and content choices reveal methods children used to cocreate a world with the authors to whom they wrote.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...


Aderinto, S. (2015). “O! Sir I do not know either to kill myself or to stay”: Childhood emotion, poverty, and literary culture in Nigeria, 1900–1960. Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, 8(2), 273–294. https://doi.org/10.1353/HCY.2015.0024

Armstrong, M. (2006). Children writing stories. McGraw-Hill Education.

Auguiste, R. (2015). Archives and invention: The archives structuring presence in documentary film practices. Journal of Media Practice, 16(1), 8–24. https://doi.org/10.1080/14682753.2015.1015798

Benjamin, W. (1999). Selected writings, Volume 2, Part 1, 1927–1930. Belknap Press of Harvard University. (Original work published in 1929)

Bland, C., & Cross, M. (2004). Gender and politics in the age of letter-writing, 1750–2000. Ashgate.

Burman, E. (2022). Found childhood as a practice of child as method. Children’s Geographies, 20(3), 271–283. https://doi.org/10.1080/14733285.2019.1566518

Christensen, P. H. (2004). Children’s participation in ethnographic research: Issues of power and representation. Children & Society, 18(2), 165–176. https://doi.org/10.1002/chi.823

Dickinson, E. (1998). The poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading edition. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Doris Buchanan Smith. (2011). In Gale literature: Contemporary authors. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/H1000092345/LitRC?u=uga&sid=LitRC&xid=3c8790bf

Eden, K. (2007). Petrarchan hermeneutics and the rediscovery of intimacy. In T. Bartolini & H. W. Storey (Eds.), Petrarch and the textual origins of interpretation (pp. 231–244). Brill.

Eden, K. (2012). The Renaissance rediscovery of intimacy. University of Chicago Press.

Freeman, E. (2010). Time binds: Queer temporalities, queer histories. Duke University Press.

Gadamer, H. G. (1986). The relevance of the beautiful and other essays (R. Bernasconi, Ed.; N. Walker, Trans.). Cambridge University Press.

Gadamer, H. G. (2009). Truth and method. Continuum. (Original work published in 1975)

George, T. (2009). What is the future of the past? Gadamer and Hegel on truth, art and the ruptures of tradition. Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, 40(1), 4–20. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00071773.2009.11006662

Grasso, L. M. (2013). “You are no stranger to me”: Georgia O’Keefe’s fan mail. Reception: Texts, Audiences, History, 5, 24–40. https://doi.org/10.5325/reception.5.1.0024

Hall, N., Robinson, A., & Crawford, L. (2000). Young children’s exploration of letter writing. In D. Barton & N. Hall (Eds.), Letter writing as a social practice (pp. xx-xx). John Benjamins.

Harris, A. (2009). This I beg my aunt may not know: Young letter-writers in eighteenth-century England, peer correspondence in a hierarchical world. The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, 2(3), 333–360. https://doi.org/10.1353/hcy.0.0072

Hodgson, J. (2021). Accessing children’s historical experiences through their art: Four drawings of aerial warfare from the Spanish Civil War. Rethinking History, 25(2), 145–165. https://doi.org/10.1080/13642529.2021.1928393

Kay, C. (2021). German children’s art during World War I. Global Studies of Childhood, 11(2). https://doi.org/10.1177/20436106211015694

King, R. S. (2018). Writing to the world: Letters and the origins of modern print genres. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Macrorie. K. (1984). Writing to be read. Boynton/Cook.

Marten, J. (2013). Childhood studies and history: Catching a culture in high relief. In A. M. Duane (Ed.), The children’s table (pp. 52–67). The University of Georgia Press.

Ricoeur, P. (1965). Freud and philosophy: An essay on interpretation. Yale University Press.

Sánchez-Eppler, K. (2018). Geographies of play: Scales of imagination in the study of child-made things. In S. Spyrou, R. Rosen, R., & D. T. Cook (Eds.), Reimagining childhood studies (pp. 41–56). Bloomsbury Academic.

Sedgwick, E. K. (2002). Touching feeling. Duke University Press.

Smith, D. B. (1970–1979). Correspondence—from children. Doris Buchanan Smith Papers (MS2035). Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Athens, GA, United States.

Spyrou, S. (2011). The limits of children’s voices; From authenticity to critical, reflexive representation. Childhood, 18(2): 151–165. https://doi.org/10.1177/0907568210387834

St. John, W. F. (1928–1975a). Christmas tree mystery files, correspondence (from readers), 1969. Wylly Folk St. John Papers (MS2145). Hargrett Rare Books & Manuscript Library. Athens, GA, United States.

St. John, W. F. (1928–1975b). Ghost Next Door files, correspondence 1971–1974, Wylly Folk St. John Papers (MS2145). Hargrett Rare Books & Manuscript Library. Athens, GA, United States.

St. John, W. F. (1928–1975c). Uncle Robert’s Secret files, correspondence (from readers), 1972–1974. Wylly Folk St. John Papers (MS2145). Hargrett Rare Books & Manuscript Library. Athens, GA, United States.

Swain, S. (2016). Locating the child within the history of childhood. In J. Faulkner & M. Solos (Eds.), Critical childhood studies and the practice of interdisciplinarity (pp. 3–14). Lexington Books.

Taylor, A., & Giugni, M. (2012). Common worlds: Reconceptualising inclusion in early childhood communities. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 13(2), 108–119. https://doi.org/10.2304/ciec.2012.13.2.108

Ulin, R. (1980). A treatment of death in the classroom. English Education, 11(3), 162–168.

Wall, J. (2019). From childhood studies to childism: Reconstructing the scholarly and social imaginations. Children's Geographies, 20(3), 257–270. https://doi.org/10.1080/14733285.2019.1668912

Westlake, J. W. (1883). How to write letters. Sower, Potts, & Company.

Wylly Folk St. John. (2003). In Gale literature: Contemporary authors. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/H1000086490/LitRC?u=uga&sid=LitRC&xid=a1601d81

How to Cite
Kuecker, E. (2022). “Somethings About Me”: Slanted Conventions in Children’s Letters to Beloved Authors. Journal of Childhood Studies, 50-67. https://doi.org/10.18357/jcs202220256
Articles from Research