Children’s Literature Makes All the Difference in the World

“My dear young fellow,” the Old-Green-Grasshopper said gently, “there are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven’t started wondering about yet.”

—Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach

jamecover5Thankfully, we don’t really live on a peach, but the grasshopper does have a point. And children’s literature is the perfect platform to explore and wonder about the (actual) world we all share.


Since this blog is dedicated to early literacy, of course children’s literature is the first type of writing genre that comes to mind when I think of literacy efforts in a global setting. There are three immediate perspectives I could take when addressing how this genre influences globalization. First, there’s the children’s literature that is about the amazing locations across planet Earth (see this link for a breakdown of books by continent); then there’s the literature written for children by authors who are from all across the world; and finally, there’s the way we can use children’s literature to find unity—globalization—among the continents, which is the focus of this post.

childrens-map-of-the-worldIn 2011, Make Way For Books (MWFB) in Southern Arizona placed 6,000 quality multicultural books in 101 childcare settings, according to their annual report. They recognized the importance of “…professional communicators need[ing] to develop new literacy practices, such as engaging in intercultural inquiry, [and] reflecting on their own literacy practices…” (Starke-Meyerring, p. 488). MWFB clearly recognizes the population in their community and strives to meet everyone’s needs. Their goal is to help children ages birth to five prepare to go to Kindergarten because research shows higher success rates in a child’s future if they have a reading foundation before they begin formal schooling. MWFB also tends to multiculturalism on their website. For example, I noticed there’s an upcoming reading challenge this October, and MWFB has an entry form online with the option to fill it out in Spanish or English. Starke-Meyerring writes, “professional communicators play important roles in shaping this local-global interaction, contributing to global corporate citizenship, and ultimately shaping a global civil society” (p. 484).

Muhammad Yunus encourages in his uplifting article, “Let us take pride in our human identity above all other identities. Let us wave our national flags, celebrate our regional, national, racial, local, religious, political, and cultural identities, but not by offending others, not by claiming supremacy.” I find similarity in Dr. Suess’s The Sneetches: “The day they decided Sneetches are Sneetches, and no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches. That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether they had one, or not, upon thars.” Globalization involves finding similarities among differences.

film_sneetchesIt seems like we would have to speak the same language, but Cameron writes, “There are rules…about norms for relating to other people through talk” (Cameron, p. 68). “…Norms of this sort are applicable across languages, dialects, cultures, and contexts” (p. 68). This explains having a universal agreement on an idea no matter what language it is in. Cameron elaborates that globalization doesn’t necessarily mean that the language has to be the same, but that it “involves promoting particular interjectional norms, genres and speech-styles across languages, on the grounds that they are maximally ‘effective’ for purposes of ‘communication'” (p. 69).

fairy tale book sculpture bFairy Tales are a perfect genre within children’s literature to find “unity in diversity.” For example, Mary Northrup wrote in 2000 that there were 500 versions of Cinderella—just in Europe! That means that multiple cultures across the globe hear the story, which, in a way, is uniting all of us—as human beings, as citizens of Earth. Multiple other fairy tales cross time and boarders as well.

Cameron writes that “problems arise only to the extent that these languages embody different or incommensurable worldviews. It is those deeper differences that need to be leveled if global communication is to be effective” (p. 69).

globeAnd fairy tales may be the answer to mending remaining differences as well. According to The German Center for Fairy Tale Culture website, fairy tales are preventative by nature (among other things!). “Fairy tales communicate ethical coordinates. Children and teenagers, who were raised with fairy tales, learn to distinguish Good and Bad in an emotional, and therefore, meaningful way. They learn that every action has consequences. Therefore fairy tales convey and develop a sense of justice and responsibility. These are necessary values for the survival of a free government under the law and a democracy.”

So the moral of the story is to read fairy tales to all the children of the world and then we might truly be able to say, “And they all lived happily ever after.”

Works Cited

Cameron, D. (2002). Globalization and the teaching of communication skills. New York, NY: Routledge.

Fairy-Tale-Land – German Center for Fairy Tale Culture. (2014). Fairy-Tale-Land – German Center for Fairy Tale Culture. Retrieved from: http://www.märchenland.de/ueber_maerchenland_en.html

Make Way For Books (2010-11). The early literacy resource center for southern Arizona: Annual report. Retrieved from: http://www.makewayforbooks.org/pdfs/AR_2011.pdf

Northrup, M. (2000). Multicultural Cinderella stories. ALA: American Library Association. Retrieved from: http://www.ala.org/offices/resources/multicultural

Starke-Meyerring, D. (2005). Meeting the challenges of globalization: A framework for global literacies in professional communication programs. Journal of business and technical communication,  488, 19:468.

Yunus, M. (1997). The poor: Micro-lending and the battle against world poverty. New York, NY: Public Affairs.

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10 thoughts on “Children’s Literature Makes All the Difference in the World”

  1. Hi Dawn!

    Thank you for your fifth blog on children’s literature. A few points of discussion:

    Firstly, I loved how you applied Roald Dahl’s quote to the overall topic of globalization and children’s literature. What a great find! After reading part of the quote — “…there are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven’t started wondering about yet” — I’m wondering if there’s a way to use it even MORE relevantly. For example, could you include some summaries about how children explore the globe (and therefore learn about globalization) through children’s literature. There are many great children’s travel books, for example, that get children to “wonder” about other parts of the world when they read them. I conducted a little research, and I found the following link to the best-selling children’s travel books. Take a look:

    http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Books-Childrens-Travel/zgbs/books/3166

    Moving on, you successfully tied this blog entry to Make Way For Books. The work the organization does is so very impressive. You were also successful in applying the works of Starke-Meyerring, Cameron, and Yunus, and I liked how you extracted excepts that most of us wouldn’t extract. And you made those excerpts relevant!

    Dr. Seuss’ words also came into play nicely. And since we’re chatting about Dr. Seuss, are you familiar with “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”? I’m wondering if you’d want to sway out the Dr. Seuss image you did use for the images most often associated with “”Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” There’s a classic one of the character in an air balloon as he sets off into the deep sky. It reminds me of travel and, arguably, an attempt at globalization. Take a look:

    http://www.amazon.com/Dr-Seuss-Happy-Graduation-Gift/dp/0545202019/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412606100&sr=1-3&keywords=the+places+you%27ll+go+dr+seuss

    I think most of your images perfectly enhance your piece, and I adored you final paragraph.

    Nicely done!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Dawn!

    Thank you for your fifth blog on children’s literature. A few points of discussion:

    Firstly, I loved how you applied Roald Dahl’s quote to the overall topic of globalization and children’s literature. What a great find! After reading part of the quote — “…there are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven’t started wondering about yet” — I’m wondering if there’s a way to use it even MORE relevantly. For example, could you include some summaries about how children explore the globe (and therefore learn about globalization) through children’s literature. There are many great children’s travel books, for example, that get children to “wonder” about other parts of the world when they read them. I conducted a little research, and I found the following link to the best-selling children’s travel books. Take a look:

    http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Books-Childrens-Travel/zgbs/books/3166

    Moving on, you successfully tied this blog entry to Make Way For Books. The work the organization does is so very impressive. You were also successful in applying the works of Starke-Meyerring, Cameron, and Yunus, and I liked how you extracted excepts that most of us wouldn’t extract. And you made those excerpts relevant!

    Dr. Seuss’ words also came into play nicely. And since we’re chatting about Dr. Seuss, are you familiar with “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”? I’m wondering if you’d want to sway out the Dr. Seuss image you did use for the images most often associated with “”Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” There’s a classic one of the character in an air balloon as he sets off into the deep sky. It reminds me of travel and, arguably, an attempt at globalization.

    I think most of your images perfectly enhance your piece, and I adored you final paragraph.

    Nicely done!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. First of all, what an absolutely delightful start to your blog! The title, the quote, the context, and the image are all extremely engaging –and made me excited as your reader to click “read more.” And you don’t stop there, the images throughout speak volumes in support of your written text, and serve to make the entire publication that much more interesting and appealing to the audience.

    Your next paragraph clearly elucidates both the premise of your blog – early literacy – and the three ways in which children’s literature can respond to globalization. And I love the interactive link for more information on books by continent. The more interactive, the better!
    You also take a highly effective approach of linking your course readings directly to the Arizona-specific organization MWFB. It becomes very clear how this organization works to prepare young students for school, support multiculturalism, and how it all ties back in relation to the early literacy focus of your blog as a whole. Later, your connection between Yunus and Dr. Seuss was truly moving – punctuated by your words and ones that will certainly resonate: “Globalization involves finding similarities among differences.”

    In your paragraph about norms that exist across languages, I found myself wondering how it maintained that connection to children’s literature and early literacy – it was profoundly clear in the earlier stages of the post, but less so in this piece – perhaps one or two added commentary on this relationship? In what way does this universal agreement you describe connect to the early literacy and globalization objectives you develop so well in the preceding paragraphs? Then, in the next paragraph, you return to “unit in diversity”, which is most explicitly tied to the paragraph that came before this one – it’s as if the piece interrupts the flow that would have moved so well from the Dr. Seuss introduction to globalization and the “unity in diversity” explored through fairy tales.

    One question I also had was in response to your proposition that “fairy tales may be the answer to mending remaining differences.” Does this imply that differences ought to be “corrected,” or “fixed”? Is there another way to word this that values differences in a perspective that does not find conflict or divisions through them?

    I love, though, your exploration of how good versus bad and justice are often distinguished for young readers through these tales, I know that was certainly true for me. At the same time, a topic of discussion I have been having with my students lately immediately comes to mind: our most recent “fairy tales” are attempting to rewrite some of the flawed ethics and values of older ones. For example, “Frozen” and “Maleficent” (the new Angelina Jolie one) both work to rewrite the story of the “bad guy.” In “Frozen”, it is not some cackling witch in a tower that is easily distinguished from the perfectly gorgeous “good guy” – it someone you think you love, who you think loves you, and looks and acts seemingly just like everyone else. Or in “Maleficent”, it is a mixture of both good and evil in all of us, in the potential we have to be hurt and to seek revenge, to change and grow and learn how to regain our strength and goodness, and that it is driven from within us. Interestingly, too, they both rewrite the story of “true love” – that iconic foundation of many our romantic fairy tales. “Frozen” says it is NOT that guy you just met, it is your sister – and “Maleficent” says it is NOT that guy you just met, it is your MOTHER. I think this is just absolutely beautiful, and wonderful, and moving. It might be nice to also use fairy tales with young students to discuss these kinds of values and qualities more thoughtfully and how they are portrayed differently in varied texts/films. Then we could definitely start moving our love and expressions of goodness toward the happily ever after!  Thanks so much for the lovely post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great work overall Dawn. Excellent use of incorporating Roald Dahl and Dr. Suess into the blog. Have you read the Roald Dahl book Danny, the Champion of the World? There are a lot of good values that can be learned from that book. I did a report on the author my junior year in undergrads called Roald Dahl: Champion of the World of Children’s Literature. Since is such a classic name in this genre, I’m glad to see you using him as an example.

    I agree with Brandi though. There are some fairy tales out there, like Jack and the Beanstalk, for instance, that are not really promoting good values. I think it would be great to start using them as a starting point to build discussions on not only of right or wrong, but of other cultures and globalization as well.

    I think fables are more on the lines for learning right from wrong, although some of their lessons are rather harsh. One of my favorite little fables is The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat, but it doesn’t end well. The final stanza of the story reads: “But, the truth about that cat and pup, is this: the ate each up.” But, still there’s usually a lesson learned in these tells.

    I also like how you incorporate this “moral” idea into your last paragraph.

    Nicely done!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dawn,

    Your blog is an excellent way of approaching children’s literature and globalization. The dichotomy of these two subjects might seem a little far fetched at first, but your analysis and approach tied them together very well.

    First, I would like to commend your structure. Your introduction and pull quote about “James and the Giant Peach” is a great way to contextualize the content for your audience. Then, moving forward, you carefully pulled in secondary resources to establish your ethos. Your quotes were obviously chosen with care and they certainly help further your argument. I would only caution you that sometimes using too many direct quotes might make your readers feel like your creativity was over shadowed. Personally, I think one or two fewer quotes would strengthen your tone and establish yourself as a trusted source for material. Your sources don’t discredit you, but I want to hear more from your own voice.

    Lastly, I love your choice of examples in the latter sections of your paper. Fairy Tales are an excellent example of globalization in children’s literature. However, I think that something contemporary might help your argument a little bit more. A work like the “Harry Potter” series or other popular, modern children’s books might help your audience see your ideas being used today.

    Your blog also reminded me of a TED talk that goes into further detail regarding the power of story telling and how it affects people’s views of different. cultures.

    Again, great job, Dawn. I certainly have some suggestions, but I think your blog is incredibly strong as it is. These are just small details that might be useful in improving your discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Dawn,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. The easiest and best way to make an impact is to start with our young learners, and nothing is more appealing than a good story.

    I adore your link for children’s books around the world. What a great database. I wish it also included some less understood cultures, like Arabic, Asian, etc. I’m sure it will be added to as it gains in popularity.

    I recently watched this TED talk on how children’s books allow us to access the truth, through creating the “lie” of a good story:

    Not only does children’s literature engage children in storytelling, it can be beneficial for adults as well, to access our imagination which is a vita l skill in our dynamic global society.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing.

    Rhea

    Like

  7. Hi Dawn,

    What a fantastic post! As I was reading, I was thinking about all the different versions of Cinderella that I have come across in education and life. I have seen versions from Native American cultures to Chinese and Korean. The stories are wonderfully written, and students enjoy looking at how cultures and time periods affect the plot line. I also thought your implementation of Dr. Seuss with the assigned research, it fit in perfectly with your blog and reiterated the research. Your ideas on children’s literacy having a profound affect on globalization seems totally logical, and increasing literacy rates in the United States would make our students more prepared for a global market. My last comment is that your images keep you blog engaging and fun while still being academic.

    It has been a pleasure reading your blogs and discussions. Your theme of children’s literature is one that brings about fond memories as well as hope for children’s literature in the future. Thank you for your ideas.

    Like

  8. This is a great blog post about children’s literature. I love all of the images you incorporate throughout. It really helped connect all of your points. Children’s literature is a great way to introduce children to a world bigger than they have experiences. It is a wonderful way to teach children about other cultures as well as respect the traditions of others. Our differences are not a bad thing, but make us who we are. By showing children that there are other cultures in the world, we can foster an understanding they will take with them for life.

    I think this blog had a great opportunity to become a call for action. You speak about the importance of preparing children for school. In your section on MWFB, consider offering suggestions about how parents or other community members can become involved in their own town. For example, I know my library offers a time where kids can come in and be read stories. It is a great way to foster a love of literacy at an early age.

    Great post, I always enjoy reading your work.

    Like

  9. Dawn, this was an awesome post! I’m so happy to hear about the amount (6,000!) of multicultural children’s books that MWFB is using in southern Arizona. On the unfortunate occasion that I encounter a student that is prejudice toward another person/group of people, or not tolerant or accepting of differences, I often think that it is too late for them. I worry that prejudice and intolerance was encouraged at young age and that, as college students, they are stuck in an awful paradigm of what privlidge and can’t see anything else. But then I think about organizations like MWFB, that are working toward creating a more inclusive, tolerant and empowered group of young people, and it makes me really happy! I want to make all my freshman students read the children’s books you mention in this post!

    Like

  10. Hi Dawn,

    What a beautifully written post about children’s literature! I really loved the intro quote. That is a story that most adults can relate to, which draws the attention to the rest of the article. I also love that you brought the Sneetches into the post. This is such a great, inspirational story that should be read to kids and adults of all ages. I also really like that you bring the images into the text. This gives the reader a break of the writing. Well done!

    Suzanne

    Like

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