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The body of children’s literature comprises with works of illustration with the sole purpose to entertain and educate with Morales (Luther.edu, 2020). This genre of literature covers global classic works, picture books, folk tales, and other verbally conveyed literature material. In this summative assignment, ethical questions regarding the development of children literature would be discussed. Following that, the analysis of three chapter books for children would be reviewed on the grounds of one common issue.
Ethical questions have been connected to literature for children in a number of ways. Discuss one of the ethical questions we have encountered in the lectures or tutorials and apply this to one of the chapter books you have read. You may refer to the final chapter of Reynold’s Children’s Literature or other scholarly sources for guidance.
Ethics is defined as the moral compass for one’s action and its consequences. Therefore, the instrument of books is the primary source to convey morally high stories and messages to shape the mind of readers and lead them towards the correct behavioural approach in life. The genre of children literature is immense and wide, it allows the children’s mind to react to the storyline and form its own opinion about it (Nikolajeva, 2017 p88). The development of cognitive thinking skills is majorly influenced by the stories children receive through children books. The knowledge of one’s culture and societal values is also established in the minds of children through these books. Therefore, this is why all the major highlight and touch points should be based on ethical ground in order to remove or eradicate any lesson that can affect their minds negatively. Maintenance of ethics while writing or framing the children stories shall be the primary concern of the authors (Nikolajeva, 2017 p88). However, one can find many folk tales, fairy tales, picture books and fiction stories that will revolve around and encourage stereotypical mind set and misguided information and in general concepts which is not feasible for the correct education of children in society.
Children literature has the ability to develop the factors of emotional intelligence and moral development among children vividly. Books examples like Peter Rabbit, Alice in Wonderland, The Cat in the Hat, and Wild in the willows depicts the role of main character as fully grown animals with human lifestyle attributes. This phenomena is termed as anthropomorphism which is a strong heritage in the history of Children literature (Geerdts, Van De Walle & LoBue, 2016 p 1242)
Many scholars debate that this concept is unethical to be stated in children’s books as it is far deviating from the reality of life. Some scholars argue that children are focused of animals and therefore, these characters with animal appearance is successful in grabbing the attention minds of children. It also helps to widen the imagination of them to such a possibility. This factor indirectly cultivates the mindset to be open to all kinds of possibilities.
Analyse three chapter books (fiction) you have chosen for younger readers (8-12 years old) in terms of any one of the topics we have covered this semester. These topics might include: • Identity • Gender • Race • Family • Ecological awareness / nature and the environment Choose one issue that all three books have in common.
The statement of gender and identity plays an essential role in children literature. The showcase of various gender identities in the books of I’m Glad I’m a boy! I’m Glad I’m a girl, Maggie goes on a diet and I am Jazz states the significance of diverse range of children literature, It has both positive and negative impacts on its target audience. It has been noticed through the analysis of many children books that stereotyping gender roles is very common but impacts negatively on children’s mind (Perry, Pauletti & Cooper, 2019 p295). In the book of I’m Glad I’m a boy! I’m Glad I’m a girl, the author Whitney Darrow Jr. establishes typical gender role - a boy is supposed to fix things and a girl is supposed to get things fixed by someone else. This affects the children’s mind and instils the thought of inequality in submissive manner. It is noticed that children literature will often stereotype the role of female characters in a non-existent way or like a supporting role against the main character. This shall not be the situation as children’s literature holds enough power to shape the mind of children supported with the ideas of integrity, equality and kindness.
Another children book named Maggie goes on a diet by Paul M. Krammer establishes typical gender role, of girls wanting to achieve unrealistic standards of beauty in the society. This picture book spreads a negative stigma that contradicts with gender identity among children. The books also highlights the point that the main goal of a girl’s life shall be desirable enough in the eyes of the opposite gender. This type of impact will create the mindset of inequality and disrespect in-between female and male children’s (Walsh, 2016 p97).
The author’s misogynistic approach towards establishing the irrelevant social idea of a normal girl has the ability to influence the young minds of children and their outlook towards different genders. The conditioning of children is majorly done through the lessons learnt by these children’s books; therefore, the authors shall be more careful about their sentence and morale structure. The promotion of sexism will only give space to the target audience - children’s to adopt the characteristics of it and the symptoms will be revealed gradually in their behaviour (Day, 2016 p213). The range of children’s book in the market is recognised as the primary source through which children learn about societal values and expectations and if that is not portrayed correctly on the grounds of, morale and ethics then it can influence the process of self-discovery.
As mentioned, that the significance of children’s literature can create appositive atmosphere in the minds of children and can completely change their outlook towards the topic of gender and identity. Another book, which was written by Jessica Herthel named I am jazz which depicts the story of Jazz Jennings, who is boy with a girl’s brain. This book, highlighted the gender identity of transgender in the society. This book had a positive impact and stood beneficial for LGBTQ community. The morale of ‘being different is not a problem but being unhappy in being someone else which you are not is the main problem’ was conveyed to its audience which has the power to nurture the minds of young audience to be more accepting towards each other’s true identity. Books like these can spread the idea of openness among young generation which in return will condition them to be loving and kind human beings. This book, I am Jazz is considered as an significant book of its time, as there was no other classic literature covering the aspects of transgender, bisexuals or the queer community.
It can be noticed that all these three books highlights gender roles in both positive and negative ways. Therefore, authors who engage with children literature shall think about how they would like to nurture the upcoming generation. This thinking is essential, because conditioning the coming generation will lay out path for innovation and greatness. Children Literature is considered of value, as it is able to cultivate and develop personality and value as the core characteristic in the young children (Nikolajeva, 2016 p139). In the end, books are considered timeless treasure that is passed on to one generation to other and it shall be done with upholding moral responsibility.
It can be concluded that the significance of children literature is immense as it plays a vital role is shaping the mindset of young children in the society. Therefore, the authors shall be more responsible while articulating their thoughts, as they have the ability to manipulate and guide the thought process of children’s.
Awfullibrarybooks.net (2013). You are never too young to think about going on a diet. - Awful Library Books. Retrieved 2 June 2020, from http://awfullibrarybooks.net/you-are-never-too-young-to-think-about-going-on-a-diet/
Brainpickings.org (2014). I’m Glad I’m a Boy! I’m Glad I’m a Girl! A Vintage Parody of Gender Inequality. Retrieved 2 June 2020, from https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/20/im-glad-im-a-boy-im-glad-im-a-girl-darrow/
Day, S. K. (2019). Gender (ed) Identities: Critical Rereadings of Gender in Children's and Young Adult Literature ed. by Tricia Clasen and Holly Hassel. Children's Literature, 47(1), 210-216.
Geerdts, M., Van De Walle, G., & LoBue, V. (2016). Using animals to teach children biology: Exploring the use of biological explanations in children’s anthropomorphic storybooks. Early Education and Development, 27(8), 1237-1249.
Luther.edu (2020). The Value of Children’s Literature | Oneota Reading Journal | Luther College. Retrieved 2 June 2020, from https://www.luther.edu/oneota-reading-journal/archive/2012/the-value-of-childrens-literature/#:~:text=Children's%20literature%20is%20important%20because,and%20development%20of%20the%20student's
Nikolajeva, M. (2016). Recent trends in children's literature research: Return to the body. International Research in Children's Literature, 9(2), 132-145.
Nikolajeva, M. (2017). Emotions and Ethics: Implications for Children’s Literature. In Affect, Emotion, and Children’s Literature (pp. 81-95). Routledge.
Perry, D. G., Pauletti, R. E., & Cooper, P. J. (2019). Gender identity in childhood: A review of the literature. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 43(4), 289-304. (
Thepublicdiscourse.com (2018). Gender Dysphoria and Children: An Endocrinologist's Evaluation of I am Jazz. Retrieved 2 June 2020, from https://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2018/04/21220/
Walsh, S. (2016). Gender and irony: children's literature and its criticism. Asian Women, 32(2), 91-110.
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