Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Multicultural Literacy

Fewer than 10 percent of children's books released in 2015 had a black person as the main character, according to a yearly analysis by the Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.   Last fall, Marley Dias decided to do something about it. She set a goal of collecting 1,000 books about black girls by the beginning of February, and #1000blackgirlbooks was born.  ✒ She has far exceeded her goal, with almost 4,000 books and counting. NPR
Mirrors, Windows, & Sliding Glass Doors  Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.  –Rudine Sims Bishop Link to complete essay

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Historic Shifts in Children's Books

Little Goody Two-Shoes, 1768 edition of the novel
It might seem totally obvious: Children should read fun, fantastical books in the classroom and outside of it, so they can learn to love to read. But it turns out that this particular view of children's books is relatively new. 
Late 1600s: John Locke, a British philosopher, wanted to change education — and one of his big ideas was to make reading fun. 
1865: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland kicked off a whole series of books that focused on imagination — Peter Pan, Tom Sawyer, The Little Princess, The Secret Garden — books now considered staples of the "golden age" of children's literature. 
Mid-20th century: The U.S. competition with the Soviet Union drove a re-evaluation of children's books in the classroom. Suddenly, the whole country was afraid that the U.S. was falling behind, and began the effort to make early readers that children might actually enjoy. The result? Seuss and Sendak were unleashed in schools, and the shift away from morally improving, no-frills lessons that began with Alice a century earlier was complete. 
Now: There is a shift toward books that confront the complexity — and deep emotional challenges — that children and adolescents face. There's also been a growing move toward books that reflect the diversity of the current student population. Books like the Hunger Games series, with its dark themes of violence and frustration, are part of this shift.
Source: NPR