On the importance of children’s literature and early education Frye had this to say in 1980 when he gave the Leland B. Jacobs lecture (entitled ‘Criticism as Education’) at the School of Library Service, Columbia University:
In a book published over twenty years ago, I wrote that literature is not a coherent subject at all unless its elementary principles could be explained to any intelligent nineteen-year-old. Since then, Buckminster Fuller has remarked that unless a first principle can be grasped by a six-year-old, it is not really a first principle, and perhaps his statement is more nearly right than mine. My estimate of the age at which a person can grasp the elementary principles of literature has been steadily going down over the last twenty years. So I am genuinely honored to be able to pay tribute to an educator who has always insisted on the central importance of childrens’ literature.
Glenna Sloan’s The Child as Critic is a wonderful expansion of this idea.
So it’s appropriate, for this and other reasons, that Frye’s name be given to the new K to 8 school in Moncton.