Presenter Information

Sonja AndersonFollow

Major

English

Anticipated Graduation Year

2021

Access Type

Open Access

Abstract

It is a common opinion that the ideas children are exposed to when they are especially young will impact their views throughout life. All parts of culture, including movies, music, television, plays, and art, can act as influences. “Given the proliferation of media messages in today's world, it stands to reason that these messages may have the potential to shape what children know, think, and do. Research on the human brain suggests that powerful visual images grab our attention and stay in our memories, and these images are the mainstay of the media” (Jalongo). As an English major, I am interested in analyzing children’s literature for cultural and social messages and themes in plots, character development, symbolism, and other literary techniques. In doing so, I will examine messages ingrained into young minds by the stories they read. Specifically, I would like to focus on the standards set for gender roles and gender performance by children’s books. To do so, I will analyze examples of children’s literature ranging from 1950 to present day. I will read three bestselling books from each decade. Using the techniques I have acquired studying literature, I will identify key literary methods for setting particular standards.

I want to examine this topic in order to help families and authors know the impacts of their words upon a child’s social outlook and their view of themselves. Hopefully, the themes that are constraining can be recognized and filtered out of children’s literature, and I will learn a great deal about how and why society in the United States has socially trained its children through literature.

Faculty Mentors & Instructors

Dr. Suzanne Bost, Professor, English Department.

Comments

Johnson Scholars

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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The Social Power of Children's Literature

It is a common opinion that the ideas children are exposed to when they are especially young will impact their views throughout life. All parts of culture, including movies, music, television, plays, and art, can act as influences. “Given the proliferation of media messages in today's world, it stands to reason that these messages may have the potential to shape what children know, think, and do. Research on the human brain suggests that powerful visual images grab our attention and stay in our memories, and these images are the mainstay of the media” (Jalongo). As an English major, I am interested in analyzing children’s literature for cultural and social messages and themes in plots, character development, symbolism, and other literary techniques. In doing so, I will examine messages ingrained into young minds by the stories they read. Specifically, I would like to focus on the standards set for gender roles and gender performance by children’s books. To do so, I will analyze examples of children’s literature ranging from 1950 to present day. I will read three bestselling books from each decade. Using the techniques I have acquired studying literature, I will identify key literary methods for setting particular standards.

I want to examine this topic in order to help families and authors know the impacts of their words upon a child’s social outlook and their view of themselves. Hopefully, the themes that are constraining can be recognized and filtered out of children’s literature, and I will learn a great deal about how and why society in the United States has socially trained its children through literature.