Journal Article

A Child’s Eye View: Dementia in Children’s Literature

Jill Manthorpe

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 35, issue 3, pages 305-320
Published in print April 2005 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online February 2005 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
A Child’s Eye View: Dementia in Children’s Literature

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This paper explores accounts and understandings of dementia that are encountered infrequently. Children’s views of dementia are under-explored and yet children, too, must be being influenced by the growing public knowledge of dementia as a named disease, particularly of old age. The first section notes that many children will encounter dementia among family members, their grandparents and great-grandparents in particular. The second section considers fictionalized accounts of dementia. These are assuming greater exposure, not so much in the professional welfare domain, but as a plot or character device in contemporary fiction. This paper combines these two areas by discussing a number of publications written for young people where dementia is a central issue, motif or characteristic. These include dementia-related material targeted at a children’s readership. This is followed by development of themes arising from analysis of three novels written for young people, emanating from Canada, Australia and the UK. The paper ends with a series of discussion points for social-work practitioners, educationalists and voluntary-sector support or self-help groups working in dementia care and in older people’s services.

Keywords: Dementia; Alzheimer’s disease; fiction; children; young people; social work

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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