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Marji Geldon Susie Treat Danee Wilson Stereotyping in YA Literature.

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Presentation on theme: "Marji Geldon Susie Treat Danee Wilson Stereotyping in YA Literature."— Presentation transcript:

1 Marji Geldon Susie Treat Danee Wilson Stereotyping in YA Literature

2 Selection Responsibility “Teachers have to consider two sets of values – the ones embedded in the author’s representation of reality and the ones they assign to the text while reading.” (Hall)

3 Selection Responsibility “[School Librarians] have to consider two sets of values – the ones embedded in the author’s representation of reality and the ones they [assign the book when the include it in the collection].” (Hall)


5 Straight Talk on Race: Challenging the Stereotypes in Kids’ Books Perkins, Mitali. "Straight Talk on Race: Challenging the Stereotypes in Kids' Books." School Library Journal (Apr. 2009): 28-32. Print.

6 “But my hope is to spur the children’s book community to be more thoughtful and proactive about how and why we write, read, and talk about race.” (Perkins, 29) Are the non-white characters too good to be true? How and why does the author define race? Is the cover art true to the story? Who are the change agents? How is beauty defined?

7 Are non-white characters too good to be True? “White characters are equated with bad, and non-white ones are equated with good. With the noblest of intentions, writers sometimes fall into this trap by making it clear that a secondary character is a person of color. These non-white friends or acquaintances often serve as a literary foil for a white protagonist.” (Perkins, 29)

8 How and Why does the author define race? “When race is explicit in a book, ask yourself …what would have been lost if a character’s race hadn’t been defined by the writer.” “When there’s no description of race in a story, ask yourself if you imagined the character as white. If so, why? If not, why not?” “If labels aren’t used, but you know the character is nonwhite, ask yourself and your students how the author communicated that fact?”(Perkins, 30-31)

9 How and Why does the author define race? Did the wise character who rescued Avielle from intolerance and showed her what it meant to love herself and be tolerant have to be dark-skinned? Sci Fi and Fantasy often have plots depicting good vs. evil in alternate race neutral worlds. Are they more likely then to have subtle stereotyping that warrants our scrutiny?

10 Is the cover art true to the story?

11 Is the Cover Art True to the Story?

12 Who are the change agents? If Lakshmi had been rescued by an Indian character instead of by a Westerner, how would that change your view of the story?” “Was it important to make her rescuer a foreigner because those who engage in sex trafficking are often outsiders?” (Perkins, 32)

13 How is beauty defined? “Standards of physical beauty have historically been related to racial characteristics. Lest you think we’ve moved beyond the cultural correlation between attractiveness and whiteness, …view a seven- minute film by teenager Kiri Davis called A Girl Like Me…Sixty years or so later, most of the black children still picked the white dolls and identified black dolls as ‘bad.’” (Perkins, 32)

14 And then we wanted to read more… …so we did a literature search

15 Questioning Your Collection …and teaching students to be critical readers “We value mirrors and windows, and we are skilled at using questions effectively. So don’t hesitate to ask, ‘What story is being told? From what perspective? What do the illustrations tell us? Is there another way to tell the story? ‘ If all children learn to critically evaluate the books they read, we need never fear any book on our library shelves.” (Rajput, 68) Rajput, Toby. "Questioning Your Collection." Knowledge Quest 38.1 (2009): 62-69. Print.

16 Check even the Classics Check the illustrations Check the story line Look at the lifestyles Weigh the relationships between people Note the heroes Consider the effect on a child’s self-image Watch for loaded words (Rajput, 63)

17 What do you think? Mitali asked her readers “…when, if ever, it would be okay to update a classic children's book to reflect changing mores about race.” (Perkins)

18 Critical Reading with Students “…whose voices are heard, and whose voices are silenced?” Serafini, Frank. "Pigs, Cinderella and Social Issues." New England Reading Association Journal 43.2 (2007): 23. ProQuest Platinum. Web. 8 Oct. 2010..

19 Critical Reading with Students Create a display of books which contain stereotypes gathered by students, and provide time for students to discuss the challenges. ( Serafina)

20 Check out the author’s background and perspective Can an “outsider” author write an “insider” story? How do we know if an unfamiliar culture is portrayed accurately? Who gets to decide who is qualified as an expert and who is allowed to tell certain stories? (Rajput, 67)

21 Authority and Cultural Authenticity (Zitzer-Comfort)

22 We became interested in who qualifies as an expert… …and found an article that asked the question, “Does popular young adult fiction about Muslim girls build understanding or reinforce stereotypes?”

23 Checking the Authors’ Credentials Dr. Ozlem Sensoy: Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University in Canada Dr. Elizabeth Marshall: Teaches courses on children’s and YA Lit at Simon Fraser University

24 Teaching common Western stereotypes Muslim girls are veiled, nameless and silent Veiled = Oppressed Muslim girls and women want to be saved by the West. Sensoy, Ozlem, and Elizabeth Marshall. "Save the Muslim Girl." Rethinking Schools Online Winter 2009-2010: n. pag. Web. 19 Jan. 2010..

25 Critical reading with students How are Muslim girls visually depicted on the cover? Which parts of the novel are you absolutely certain are true? How do you know? Who is the author of the story? How do they legitimize themselves as experts? How is the book marketed and who does it intend to teach? How does Afghanistan…fit into the region? Whose story is missing? (Sensoy and Marshall)

26 Lookism Prejudice (Glessner et al) Role of friends and ParentsWill-power vs. weight Glessner, Marci M., John H. Hoover, and Lisa A. Hazlett. "The Portrayal of Overweight in Adloescent Fiction." Reclaiming Children and Youth 15.2 (2006): 116-123. ProQuest Platinum. Web. 8 Oct. 2010..

27 Our conclusions: Our examination of the subject through professional literature coupled with critical reading of selections in our collections was a worthwhile experience that would inform our collection development practice.


29 Next steps: We continue to read and discuss multicultural YA books and plan to develop a rubric of our own to inform our selection of materials. Thank you for joining in our discussion today!

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