“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
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.
In 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.
It 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 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).
And 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.”
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.