Foster-Curry-Children's Literature Project

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Language Arts

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Foster-Curry-Children's Literature Project

Conservative Perspective:People with this perspective view out-of-date children's literature that have negative stereotypes as a way to "brainwash" their children/students and/or go against their own beliefs.They censor these materials and don't see any positives to having these as part of the curricula at school or for leisure. Historically literature has been banned or censored to control controversial ideas and information. Literature containing sex, drugs, violence, homosexuality, and witchcraft are often banned or censored.

Librarians hold a powerful position in what books are selected for the library. According to Crisp, et. al, 2011, "Paying careful attention to representations and depictions of gender while selecting and introducing books to children can help decrease stereotypic gender attitudes in young people. (Trepanier-Street & Romantowski, 1999) (p.27) . In a study of students ages 9 to 12, children were asked if they think literature should be censored by librarians and parents. The majority of the students expressed their negative attitude toward censoring, except in literature with extreme violence. The students also demonstrated the knowledge of ther libraians organizing books to discourage the reading of more graphic literature from young readers.

Negative Stereotypes in out of date Children's Literature

Parents have a legitimate reason for wanting to have a voice in which books their children should be reading. With that said, we live in an ever-changing, diverse world with many different views and parents should not censor materials for other people's children. One example is To Kill a Mockingbird where the main character, Scout is a girl that is very tom-boyish. This crosses the line of "normal" gender roles that some people do not agree with. According to Kidd (2009), "Books once considered too heady for kids now make up a canon of good or even great books." (p.199)


Teachers have a duty to ensure that students are aware of what questions to ask when reading a book. According to Reichman (2001), "The professional should also know how to take into account and work with comminity and parental concerns, while still maintaining a high tolerance for our national diversity." (p. 7) One example is that of the story, Cinderella. This fairy tale encourages characteristics of envy, jealously, a dislike for mother in laws, vanity, and more. Another example is Huckleberry Fin by Mark Twain that captured society’s prejudices of the time. As teachers, we can suppress these stereotypes that are evident in fairytales and other stories by reminding our students that boys and girls have equal opportunities today. They should also understand that there are no set rules on who can do what. According to Clark, 1993, “Children’s literature, whether it is sexist or not, has an effect on the socialization of children.” (p. 8) What we read affects who we are, whether it’s good or bad. As teachers, we need to read ahead in books that we plan to use in our classrooms and explain to children that they can be whatever they want to be and strive for something great!



Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Liberal Perspective: People with this perspective view out-of-date pieces of literature as ways for children to "broaden their horizons" and become more culturally sound with those around them. According to Reichman (2001), "While the censor seeks reasons to exclude materials, those engaged in the process of selection look for ways to include the widest possible variety of textbooks, library materials, and curricular supplements within the contexts of a well-defined curriculum with clearly articulated goals." (pg.7) . Tillotson (2005) points out that freedom of speech is an underlying part of what this country stands for so freedom in choosing literature is an American idea (p. 2).

"As lifestyles change, so will literature. Even so, many older books have literary merit. They should not be discarded, but rather read, re-read, discussed, and analyzed from an historical perspective." (Barbara A. Lehman, 1976, p.12)



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