Representation in Children's Literature
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The Value of Children’s Literature | Oneota Reading Journal

Amanda Kronenberger's insight:

This article explains how important children’s literature is to a child’s success. Students should develop a passion for reading from parents and educators. The article says that aside from helping students create cognitive skills, “Children’s literature is important because it provides students with opportunities to respond to literature; it gives students appreciation about their own cultural heritage as well as those of others; it helps students develop emotional intelligence and creativity; it nurtures growth and development of the student’s personality and social skills; and it transmits important literature and themes from one generation to the next.” This shows why the love for reading should be very much so emphasized and why it is important that all children develop this. All of these things are essential to life and the fact that they are taught through literature is something great. The most important thing I take from this is, “it gives students appreciation about their own cultural heritage as well as those of others.” The way that a culture is represented through literature means so much. If done so negatively, it will give a negative conation to people of certain cultures, and for students it could make them ashamed of their own culture.  This is something that should never happen in literature. It is for the betterment of a child’s learning. The following things that the article says about why literature is important depend very heavily on appreciate of culture. Children’s literature is extremely valuable in both the school setting and at home. Teachers and parents should both be able to decide whether a book is high quality literature or not, in order to give students access to the best books for them. 

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As Demographics Shift, Kids' Books Stay Stubbornly White

As Demographics Shift, Kids' Books Stay Stubbornly White | Representation in Children's Literature | Scoop.it
Demand for multicultural kids' books is growing, but it's hard to find non-white main characters.
Amanda Kronenberger's insight:

A quarter of all public school children in the US are Latino but only 3 percent of children's books are by or about Latinos. Obviously this presents a major problem. 8-year-old Havana Machado, at her mothers' insistence, Havana also has lots of books featuring strong Latinas, like  Josefina and Marisol from the American Girl Doll books. “She says she likes these characters because, with their long, dark hair and olive skin, they look a lot like her,” says the article. Her mother, Melinda, says you really have to look to find these types of characters in books.  She says that children are told that they can be whatever they want, but if it is so hard to find themselves in stories, they are going to start to question this. A major question is why aren’t more books made that are representative of Latino, black and Asian children? One response is that its about the money. "I think there is a lot of concern and fear that multicultural literature is not going to sell enough to sustain a company," says Megan Schliesman, a librarian with the Cooperative Children's Book Center.

"There is an enormous amount of demand for this kind of content from libraries," says Andrew Karre, an editor with Lerner Books. According to Karre, public and school librarians want these types of books in their libraries and try very hard to get them. However, librarians can be influential but they can't make a book sell just by adding it to their selection. "There are something like 6,000 public libraries in the country," Karre says, "And even if they buy five copies of the book for their collection ... that's not going to crack those best-seller lists of any kind, really."

This article goes on to address what I have been adding into all of the articles on this topic I have been curating. Students will only remain interested in literature if they see themselves represented. If they do not, they will be give up on reading. In addition to this, the artile says,  that “Nelson adds that it is also important for white children to see characters of different races. "Not only do they learn to appreciate the differences," she explains, "but I think they learn to see the sameness, and so those other cultures are less seen as 'others.' "  I think this is SO important and have not really thought about this too much. The more they see how they are similar, the more we are getting rid of racism for the future generations. 

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Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan | Representation in Children's Literature | Scoop.it
Amanda Kronenberger's insight:

    Esperanza Rising is a great book for the classroom because it deals with many difficult topics that students can relate to. Esperanza is a young Mexican girl who’s life is completely changed. When Esperanza was 13 years old, she lost her father and her and her mother were left with nothing. She was used to living a wealthy life in Mexico, but was forced to move to America and become a migrant farm worker, making barely any money at all. Then, she takes on the role as provider for my family when her mother becomes ill. Esperanza is only thirteen years old, yet has to overcome so many hardships in only one year. I realize that some children actually have gone through similar losses, and it may be a reality for someone in the class. The message that the novel presents is one that could all students; especially those who have experiences similar losses, and make others see how thankful they are for what they have. I also believe this is a great book for the classroom because, although I personally am not Mexican, I can still relate to Esperanza because many people have experienced both lose and overcoming that lose. Also, this book also allows teachers to explore Mexican culture to relate to Mexican students in the classroom. However, students of all cultures can relate or enjoy Esperanza’s story. One thing that I thought the author did well was creating symbolism with this crochet blanket. The blanket came to represent the highs and lows of life, just like the high mountains and low valleys in the stitch. Throughout the book we see Esperanza stitching in moments of happiness, like when her Abuelita finally arrives in Mexico and her family is united at camp, or in times of sadness, such as when Mama is sick or when the women are waiting anxiously to see if Papa returns alive.  This blanket comes to represent the struggles in life and how they’re will be high and low moments.  I believe this symbolism is important because it also ties into the theme of the book of overcoming, or “rising”, above struggles and sadness. 

            This book is a great way to deal with the issue of loss in the classroom. Students in every class will have gone through loss and struggle, just as Esperanza has.  Hopefully, this book will be able to help them to get though it. Esperanza is a relatable character for all, but especially children of racial minorities. Some teachers present books with only white characters, but this book shows a great strong and determined charetor of race which will hopefully inspire students. In connection with 10 Quick ways to analyze children’s literature, this author is from a Mexican background, so it adds to the credibility of the book.  

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10 Quick Ways to Analyze Children's Books for Racism and Sexism

From The Council on Interracial Books for Children
Amanda Kronenberger's insight:

    Children are exposed to racist and sexist attitudes very often, and books can turn the stereotypes into reality if they are exposed to it enough. This is why it is important for teachers to choose books in the classroom that do not perpetuate stereotypes. It is also important for the child to be able to recognize this in books as well so that they understand how it is racist or sexist and why. This article describes 10 things to look for in a book to make sure it is appropriate. First, the illustrations are very important. If there is someone in the book who is a racial minority, what are they seen doing? Are they subservient or do they have passive roles? Are the male characters doing things while the female is just watching? This is wrong. Are they made out to look white with just a change in coloring? This is called tokenism. We know that black people have different features than whites, and this should be expressed positively in illustrations. Next, the story line should be analyzed to see who in the story is succeeding and how. For example, if there is a character who is not white, but is acting in a white way, this would not be appropriate. The book should express their culture, not change it so that it is whiter.  Are only white people solving the problems, or are others receiving positive roles as well? Are women making achievements or are only men? Other things to look out for are the lifestyles of the people, are they representative of that culture or are they showed negatively? Do the whites in the story possess the power, take the leadership, and make the important decisions? Do racial minorities and females of all races function are essentially supporting roles? Who are the heroes? Consider how all of these things will have an effect on the child’s self image.

            The author of the book should also be considered. For example, what the background of the author is? If a story deals with a minority theme, what qualifies the author or illustrator to deal with the subject? Is the author putting his or her input into the story and if so, is it appropriate? Look out for offensive or, loaded words. The article says that “a word is loaded when it has insulting overtones. Examples of loaded adjectives (usually racist) are "savage," "primitive," "lazy," "superstitious," "treacherous," "wily," "crafty," "inscrutable," "docile," and "backward"." Lastly, take into consideration how old the book is. Books did not start representing minorities well until the 1960s, so books before this date may not be appropriate. 

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Diversity in Children's Books 2012

Diversity in Children's Books 2012 | Representation in Children's Literature | Scoop.it
Amanda Kronenberger's insight:

When I came across this picture, I thought it would be very valuable for this newspaper. It really shows the problem with representation in children’s literature that we are facing right now. It is from 2012, and the statics are that 93% of books reviewed by the CCBC in 2012 were about Caucasians. This was followed by and 3% were about African Americans, 2% about Asian pacific Americans, 1.5% were about Latinos and less that 1% Native Americans. Considering that America is so racially diverse, these percentages are horrible. With so little to offer, it is no wonder that Melinda, from a previous article, finds it so hard to find books that represent Latinos for her daughter. Some people think that publishing is getting better, but obviously it is not. 

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Study finds huge gender imbalance in children's literature

Study finds huge gender imbalance in children's literature | Representation in Children's Literature | Scoop.it
New research reveals male characters far outnumber females, pointing to 'symbolic annihilation of women and girls'
Amanda Kronenberger's insight:

Male central characters very heavily dominate children’s books, which sends children the wrong message. It is making it seems that women and girls play a less important role in our society. Here are some statistics from the article. “Looking at almost 6,000 children's books published between 1900 and 2000, the study, led by Janice McCabe, a professor of sociology at Florida State University, found that males are central characters in 57% of children's books published each year, with just 31% having female central characters. Male animals are central characters in 23% of books per year, the study found, while female animals star in only 7.5%.” The Caldecott award is given to very well written books and is a very prestige honor. There was only one that had a stand-alone female character in the 20th century, “Have You Seen My Ducking” in 1938. There were obviously many more book in which the dominant character was a male animal. The gender disparity came close to disappearing by the 1990s for human characters in children's books, with a ration of 0.9 to 1 for child characters and 1.2 to 1 for adult characters. However, the gap remained with animal characters. Although some may not think that this is noticeable for children, I think it defiantly is. Girls are given the idea that they are less important, in additional to how they should act and how they should be playing a supporting role. This means they learn to not take initiatives and have others (males) do it instead. Another problem is how women are represented when they do appear. This believed to be true by former children's laureate Anne Fine. She says, "Publishers rightly take care to put in positive images of a mix of races, but seem not to even notice when they use stereotypical and way out-of-date images of women. In modern classics such as Owl Babies and Hooray for Fish! it's always the mother, never the dad, whom the child ends up wanting and needing. God forbid each book should try to cover all the 'issues'; but we do need a bit of balance. Children's authors should make an effort to do a bit of role widening. I try. You wouldn't notice, but in every single one of my books, the male can cook. In The Country Pancake, my farmer just happens to be a female. And on and on." This shows that it is not only women who are misrepresented, but males as well. We need to work harder in children’s literature to not define what males and females do according to stereotypes. 

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What is culturally relevant pedagogy?

Culture in the classroom 

Amanda Kronenberger's insight:

A culturally relevant pedagogy is defined as "how people are expected to go about learning may differ across cultures. In order to maximize learning opportunities, teachers must gain knowledge of the cultures represented in their classrooms, then translate this knowledge into instructional practice" Through the TDSI website, I was able to gain the understanding the Culturally Relevant Primer is something that teachers must grasp in order for all students to receive education that is appropriate to their individual cultures. Teachers must venture outside of their own culture in order to learn and understand that values of the children’s culture that they are teaching. Also, teachers are instructing students so that they can understand how society works and be able to see the complications in it to one day try and change it. This is the second part of Culturally Relevant Primer. Something I wonder about this is how teachers get students to bring in their culture if they student feels ashamed of it because it may be different than other students in the class? This is huge issue because no student should feel like this, but if the student feels very different from his or her peers it may be discouraging.

            A major way that teachers can implement this is through children’s literature. If students see themselves represented in a book that the teacher shares with the class, they will feel proud and able to express themselves.  This is why I feel it is important for teachers to do their best include all types of cultures and family styles into their classroom. For example, if you have an African American student in your class and you are only presenting students with books that have only white charectors, the child will not be able to connest with the books. Therefore, the child will be turned off to reading and not learn from the material you are offering. If you present a book where he/she can see themselves, the child will be more engaged and hopefully grow more of a liking for literature. 

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