Childhood Through the Looking-Glass

This lesson explores the vision of childhood created by Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland. Students begin by looking at Carroll's photographs of the real Alice for whom Carroll imagined his story. They then compare the image of childhood that he captured on film with images of children in our culture. Next, students read Alice in Wonderland with special attention to the illustrations that Carroll had made for his book, and explore the relationship between words and pictures by creating an Alice illustration of their own. For contrast, students compare Carroll's vision of childhood with that presented by the Romantic poet William Blake in his illuminated Songs of Innocence and Experience. Finally, students consider the interplay of image and text in their own favorite children's literature and how the vision of childhood presented there compares to their experiences as children.

Guiding Questions

What vision of childhood did Lewis Carroll portray in his famous Alice stories, and how did the culture of Victorianism influence that vision?

Learning Objectives

Discuss Lewis Carroll and the vision of childhood he created in Alice in Wonderland

Compare Carroll's Victorian world of childhood with the world of "Innocence and Experience" portrayed by the Romantic poet William Blake

Explore the relationship between picture and text in children's literature

Consider the relationship between childhood fictions and the real experience of growing up