Children's Literature to Dispel the Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :


In comparing a number of literary elements in one story, Smith and Wiese (2006) contend that at times, when attempting to transform an old story into a modern multicultural version, cultural meanings of the original story may be lost. In turn, the literature does not subject the reader to another culture. For instance, in the story about the fisherman, that Smith and Wiese access, the plot remains similar plot, however, significant changes transform the reported intent to make the story multicultural. Changes included the fisherman's daughter's stated name, being changed from one common to her culture to Maha. Instead of God, as written in the original version, the reference notes "Allah." Other changes Smith and Wiese point out include:

& #8230;The admonition to retrieve the fish or "be sorry" instead of the threatened curse, the reference to the golden shoe as a sandal instead of a clog;

the proposed groom is the merchant's son instead of the prince;

the wedding is set for "Friday;"

the purge and its results are deleted from the story. Smith and Wiese (2006)

Multicultural Books

Peterson and Swartz (2008) note the following books currently considered to be books that help fulfill the cause of achieving social justice goals. These goals include:

Combating intolerance, fostering a sense of inclusion, and acting for change and education and society.

The following lists relates15 contemporary books considered to qualify as good multicultural literature, as noted by Peterson and Swartz (2008).

1. Alma, Ann (2008). Brave deeds: How one family saved many from the Nazis.

2. Bridges, Shirley Yin (2002) Ruby's wish.

3. Choi, Uangsook (2001) The name jar.

4. Ellis, Deborah (2000) The breadwinner.

5. ____ (2004) The heaven shop.

6. Halibegovich, Nadja (2006) My childhood under fire: A Sarajevo diary.

7. Setteringtoin, Ken (2004) Mom and Mum are getting married.

8. Slipperjack, Ruby )2001) Little voice.

9. Highway, Thomson (2001) Caribou song.

10. Lee & Low Books (1997) In daddy's arms I am all: African-Americans celebrating fathers.

11. Weatherford, Carole Boston (2006) Moses: when Harriet Tubman led her people to freedom.

12. Winter, Jeanette (2004) The librarian of Basra: A true story from Iraq.

13. Yee, Paul (1996) Ghost train.

14. ____ (2004) A song for Ba.

15. Yerxa, Leo (2006) Ancient thunder (Peterson & Swartz, 2008, p. 147)

Multicultural books cannot, nor will they achieve social justice goals on their own, Peterson and Swartz (2008) stress. To achieve "good" changes in the social settings, will require readers not only to read about what needs to be changed, but to put into practice, those practices stimulate and mandate the changes.


In the past, nonfiction literature routinely included pedestrian writing, minimum visual appeal, and inaccuracy. Consequently, historically, "much of children's nonfiction did not match the quality of nonfiction" (Peterson & Swartz, 2008, p. 150). Today, however, due to the increased attention publishers pay to children's nonfiction, according to the Library of Congress, approximately 60% of children's books they currently categorize are nonfiction.

Historically, as today, for nonfiction or fiction books to be "good," the works need to not only have to pay the reader's interest, but be accurate. Criteria for determining a book's accuracy include:

The qualifications of the author and/or evidence of extensive research conducted by the author

Appropriate breadth and depth of the information on the book's topic

Presentation of varying viewpoints

Avoidance of stereotypes and anthropomorphism [attributing human thought

And speech to animals]. (Peterson & Swartz, 2008, p. 150)

Contrary to some historical perceptions that nonfiction was merely about relating information, the truth is that for many children and young adult readers "nonfiction serves the same purposes as fiction does for other readers; it entertains, provides escape, sparks the imagination, and indulges curiosity" (Peterson & Swartz, 2008, p. 150). A good nonfiction book, now, more than ever, consists of more than mere information.

As educators bring "good" children's literature into the classroom, it opens up a world of ideas and invites fresh ways of thinking, as it enhances the child's understanding of the ideas and concepts in the literature. To help teachers ensure good literature serves its best purposes, they may utilize discussion assessment tools, such as checklists, logs, and records, as well as open-ended, narrative observational notes. Traditional literature evolves from one's need to understand the human and natural worlds and to explore possible ways of living and being within them (Peterson &
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Swartz, 2008)

The following list includes 15 to traditional samples of good literature, according to Peterson and Swartz (2008),

1. Bermelmans, Ludwig (1939) Madeline

2. Booth, David (1989) Till all the stars have fallen

3. Collins, Heather (1997) This little piggy

4. Dahl, Ronald (1961). Jane's and the giant peach

5. Edwards, Wallace (2002) Alphabeasts.

6. Ginsburg, Mirra (1988) The chick and the duckling.

7. Henkes, Kevin (1996) Lilly's purple plastic purse

8. Hoban, Tana (1999) So many circles, so many squares.

9. Lewis, C.S. (1950) The lion, the witch and the wardrobe

10. Lowry, Lois (1993) The giver

11. Sabuda, Robert (2003) Alice's adventures in Wonderland

12. Slavin, Bill (2005) Transformed: How everyday things are made

13. Spinelli, Jerry (1990) Maniac Magee

14. White, E.B. (1952) Charlotte's web

15. Aindel, Paul (1989) A begoina for Miss Applebaum. (Peterson & Swartz, 2008, p. 12)

Traditional literature also lists Fairy Tales Andersen, Hans Christian (1985: Ill. Demi) The nightingale. Andrews, Jan. (2000) and others as "good,"

A number of reportedly "good" books have historically been banned for controversial reasons. These include, but may not be limited to the following examples.

In the apartheid era, the South African government banned one classic children's book titled, Black Beauty, because of the word "Black" in the title (Banned Book

Quiz, 2009).

Some individuals rejected Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl, a famous diary w in parts of the U.S.A. A number of times, claiming it to the "pornographic" and a "real downer" [1982,1983 & 1998]. Historically this book proved to be a popular text book in a number of schools, as well as the subject of a television series on BBC1

during January 2009 (Banned Book Quiz, 2009).

During 1931, Hunan Province, China banned Alice's Adventures in Wonderland,

a popular children's story. The reason: "Animals should not use human language,

and that it was disastrous to put animals and human beings on the same level"

(Banned Book Quiz, 2009, p. 2).

Dr. Seuss' book The Lorax was banned, due to the charge it ciminalized the forest

Industry (Banned Book Quiz, 2009).

During 2001, the trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, was burned in Almagordo, New

Mexico, by some who perceived it to be "satanic." Later, a trilogy of films based on these books qualified as the 8th; 4th; 2nd highest grossing films ever. They also won

17 Academy Awards (Banned Book Quiz, 2009)

Current Multicultural Impact on Society

In her book review of the book "Stories of heaven and earth: Bible heroes in contemporary children's literature," by Diane Goetz Person, Ruth B. Bottigheimer (2008) recounts that stories for the focus in this work reflect the fact that a significant transition transpires on the part of the hero. This involves "a transition from innocence, naivete and youth, whether metaphorical or actual, to adulthood" (Bottigheimer, ¶ 1). The Moses chapter reveals the Persons at work, Bottigheimer reports, as Old Testament details of the life of Moses, am man who Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all revere, recounts the time from Moses' birth to his death.

This book recapitulates Moses' history and characterizesit as a "drama"; including common human literary themes of "good and evil, rebellion, growth, revenge, and triumph." Along with being a great leader. Bottigheimer purports that

Moses achieves mythic status, [as]… the Persons not only see Moses' years in Pharaoh's household as similar to the children's author Jane Yolen's conceptualization of King Arthur as a child with a hidden identity (p. 120), but they also refer to similar themes in Harry Potter books. (As an aside, however, I'd like to point out that King Arthur and Harry Potter are both epic rather than fairy tale heroes.) The Persons cite Moses' own mother and the Pharaoh's daughter as suppliers of a comforting and reassuring mother love, adding the prominence of Moses' sister Miriam in the books they've investigated (Bottigheimer, 2008, ¶ 3).

Diane Goetz. Person (2005), however, purports additional perceptions in Stories of heaven and earth: Bible heroes in contemporary, children's literature. Person states that during the past 135 years, a body of literature crafted particularly for children has risen. Her book, according to Person includes stories from the Bible, a contemporary mainstay of children's literature. Penson contends her goal to be to reflect why Bible stories serve as a vital body of Western literature for children.

Counter Claims

In her paper, "Cross-generational negotiations: Asian Australian picture books," Clare Bradford (2007), Professor of Literary Studies at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, who teaches literary studies and children's literature,…

Sources Used in Documents:


Anderson, Connie Wilson. (2006). Examining Historical Events through Children's Literature.

Multicultural Education. Caddo Gap Press. 2006. Retrieved May 03, 2009 from HighBeam Research:

Banned Book Quiz. (2009). Retrieved May 03, 2009 from

Bottigheimer, Ruth B. (2008). Stories of heaven and earth: Bible heroes in contemporary

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