Volume 4(2), 2008

Children’s Literature and Literacy: Diversity and Transformation

Varga-Dobai, K., & Wilson, A. A. (2008)


The Challenge of Moving Beyond the Literal in Literature Discussion

Serafini, F., & Ladd, S. M. (2008)

Drawing on data associated with an investigation of classroom read alouds and discussions of children’s literature, this article conceptualizes the reading aloud and discussions of picturebooks as an “interpretive space” for elementary grade students’ exploration of visual images and written text. Analyzing the types of responses student generated during discussions of three picturebooks, the study revealed the dominance of literal responses in comparison with interpretive responses in the classrooms studied. Further analysis showed that time spent reading and discussing picturebooks, varying the ways the books were presented and the types of questions asked by the classroom teacher affected the types of responses offered by the students. Read full article


Rethinking the New Literatures of Childhood: Cultural Models of Gender in Popular Websites

Stone, J. C., & Veth, E. S. (2008)

Online texts rapidly are becoming central to children’s out-of-school literate lives. However, children’s engagement with such unofficial texts rarely is addressed in schools, or is addressed in limited ways. To address this gap, we argue for conceptualizing popular media, including websites, as the new literatures of childhood, tracking how popular websites maintain many of the values of children’s literature but extend beyond the genres, purposes, and textual practices commonly discussed in children’s literature. Through analyses of cultural models of gender in four popular websites—including cultural models of ideal girls and boys, appropriate activities for each gender, and characterizations of the opposite sex—we illustrate how a literary approach to new media texts can be used to refocus literacy education. Read full article


Grass Houses: Representations and Reinventions of Social Class through Children’s Literature

Jones, S. (2008)

Grounded in feminist notions of valuing lived experiences and constructing knowledge about the wider world from material realities, this article uses autobiographical narratives and poststructural and critical theories to argue for change in children’s literature. The author presents two simultaneous streams of shifting, representations and reinventions, to explore possibilities of including more varied and contradictory ways of living class-specific lives and assertively positioning readers to question the invisibility of working-class and poor lives in mainstream children’s literature. A metaphor of malleable “grass houses” is used to imagine broadened and more flexible ways of thinking and talking about social class through children’s picture books. Read full article


Indigenizing Children’s Literature

Reese, D. (2008)

In this article the author situates the analysis of two popular children’s books in theoretical frameworks emerging from American Indian Studies. Using a new historicist lens, she discusses Anne Rockwell’s (1999) Thanksgiving Day and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s (1935/1971) Little House on the Prairie and suggests that these books function as obstacles for the understanding of the Other in American and global society. Read full article


Voices from the Field

Class Discussions: Locating Social Class in Novels for Children and Young Adults

McLeod, C. A. (2008)

Few studies on representations of social class in children’s literature have been published in the United States. As a language arts teacher and media specialist in a high poverty school, the author describes children’s novels which directly address social class and the subtopic of the labor movement and consider the continued relevance of social class to educational research in the twenty-first century. Research that examines how children’s novels address these issues will assist educators who want to engage students in dialogue about class inequality, past and present. Read full article


Providing Windows for Non-Minority Readers

Gardner, R. (2008)

Collecting and presenting children’s literature takes on new meaning when the audience is comprised of students who are affluent and represent the dominant culture. As a school librarian, the author of this article believes that children’s literature provides a means by which she can introduce the diversity of society into the classroom. Highlighting the accomplishments, contributions, and experiences of minorities within the context of the library curriculum is a continuous process. In addition to sharing books for the sake of enjoyment, the author works to create a reading program that promotes tolerance, social justice, equality, and inclusion. Read full article


Reading Pictures: An Interview with David Wiesner

Varga-Dobai, K. (2008)

Two-time Caldecott Honor winner (Free Fall, Sector 7) and three-time Caldecott Medal winner (Tuesday, The Three Pigs, Flotsam) David Wiesner is regarded as one of the most remarkable creators of visual storytelling living today. Wiesner is well known for his innovative and unique subject matter and his sophisticated painting-like illustrations through which he draws readers, both children and adults, into the imaginary worlds of his books. In this interview, he talks about his childhood as a source of inspiration, the origination of the idea of wordless picture books, and the relevance of reading and art in the lives of children. Read full article


Book Reviews

Book Review 1
Rycik, M. T. (2008)
Author reviews Sipe & Pantaleo’s (Eds). Postmodern picturebooks: Play, parody and self-referentiality.

Book Review 2
Cowan, J. (2008)
Author reviews Bishop’s Free within ourselves: The development of African American children’s literature.




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