Choosing four of the following texts, what makes these books controversial/challenging, and how do they add to our understanding of childhood? Hana’s Suitcase (Karen Levine) The Paper Bag...
Choosing four of the following texts, what makes these books controversial/challenging, and how do they add to our understanding of childhood?
- Hana’s Suitcase (Karen Levine)
- The Paper Bag Princess (Robert Munsch)
- Black and White (David Macaulay)
- Bird (Zetta Elliott)
- Making Up Megaboy (Virginia Walter)
- The Island (Armin Greder)
Each book on this list can be enjoyed as a simple story, or can be further analyzed and applied to current events and/or human nature, which is likely the direction your teacher would like you to take. A helpful way to begin might be to read each book, make brief notes, and then re-read each book to see what further insight is gained. Black and White, in particular, will probably make more sense each time you read it, since to fully understand each story you'll need to incorporate details from the other three stories in the book. I'll share brief thoughts on four of the listed books to help as you approach this assignment.
The Paper Bag Princess challenges traditional fairy tale roles of a helpless princess being saved by a brave prince, as Princess Elizabeth bravely risks her life in order to save Prince Ronald, who is kidnapped by a dragon. After she rescues him, Ronald rejects Elizabeth, instructing her to return when she's fixed her appearance. Elizabeth then rejects Ronald for being ungrateful and embraces life on her own, introducing the idea that a woman does not need a man to be happy and free, which is uncommon in fairy tales and was almost unheard of in children's literature at the time of publishing. The book has received much acclaim and has been well-loved for almost forty years, which indicates how well the reversal of stereotypes has resounded with children and adults alike.
Black and White is unique in its interweaving of four different stories into one tale, in which each small part affects the larger whole. The book is a challenging read since it appears at first glance to contain four random tales of nonsense, but upon closer examination reveals an intricately concocted masterpiece. The book itself is a reminder of the mysteries of childhood; although children view life from a perspective wholly different from that of adults, what appears nonsensical may in fact be simply misunderstood, and may be better understood through concentrated efforts.
Bird may be viewed as controversial by some readers due to its inclusion of heavy topics such as addiction, death, and slavery. The story is intended for older readers and highlights the use of the arts as a coping mechanism for life's tough challenges, which is a useful skill for any age. The book is a sobering reminder that many children face difficult struggles, and that not every childhood is carefree.
The Island tackles controversial topics that most picture books do not approach, including xenophobia, racism, immigration, and human rights. The book can easily be read as a parable relating to history or to current events, and highlights the mistreatment and ultimate banishing of a man who washes ashore on an island of strangers who do not like his foreign appearance and do not wish to share space with an imposter. The presentation of a hard-hitting story in simple terms makes it a useful teaching tool that can be used to educate children and adults alike.