A COPLAC Digital Distance Learning Course

Author: beitzel (Page 2 of 2)

Reading Response

This is in response to the article by Metzger and Kelleher. I absolutely agree that there is a powerful impact on Native American youth when they have no culturally relevant literature. I believe it can harm everyone, giving and supporting stereotypes and false information. Representation matters, it matters to every marginalized group, to every minority, to every youth. I worked with kids of every age and every race, I have seen the affects of representation on children and adults. When Moana came out, there were so many little girls talking about it. Many brown girls, African American, Pacific Islander, Indian, all of them loved her! They saw themselves in her, they saw that they too could be a princess. I would see how happy the moms would get when we said Tiana was one of the princesses we offered. I specifically remember one mom so thrilled that we had princess of color that she requested all of them so her daughter could be surrounded by strong princesses who looked just like her. The most powerful moment I witnessed was at an event in the shopping center our store was located in. A mom was encouraging her daughter in Spanish to go ask Elena (from Elena of Avalor) for a photo, but the daughter was too shy. My coworker who played Elena whipped around and spoke to the daughter and mother in Spanish that she heard they wanted a photo and she would be delighted to take one with them. I have seen a lot of little girls smile with happiness, but none as big as that girl. Her mom thanked her, and the daughter excitedly waved as Elena joined the rest of our group. Even though I no longer work there, I still see the amazing impacts that positive representation has on children and adolescents. While I have thoughts about The Princess and The Frog, as the main characters were frogs for the majority of the movie, that is a discussion for another time. Even so, it does not change the fact that Tiana is a princess of color, the first black princess as well, and has a large impact on young girls. Spiderman: Into The Spiderverse has shown young black boys that they too can be Spiderman, and or any superhero like Black Panther from his movie. Positive representations can change a child’s entire view point.

Speaking of movies, I believe the only movies that were popular that had Native American main characters were Brother Bear (but again, main character was a bear for the whole movie), Pocahontas, and side characters in Spirit: Stallion of CimarronThese were not good representations of Native American culture.

When the reading explained how publishers often do not want to publish Native American voices, my thoughts shifted to many different routes. First, I think its so silly to deny authentic voices. Most reviewers praise authentic voices in media and stories, its good publicity. Especially now in this political and social climate when there is a demand for diverse, authentic voices and representation, you would think more publishers would jump at the chance to publish a well written story. I then thought about Rick Riordan. He uses his well known name and publicity to help bring up other authors through “Rick Riordan Presents”. Through this he is able to publish and create a collection of diverse authors telling the stories of their cultures ancient gods and goddesses, folklore, or other similar adventures. Sal And Gabi Break The Universe, a Cuban influenced story, The Dragon Pearl, a Korean folklore meets Sci-fi, The Storm Runner, a novel of Maya Gods, and Aru Shah And The End Of Time, centered around Indian and Hindu culture, are the first four books in this collection. Four books will be added each year. It would be amazing if other authors did what Rick Riordan does, advocating and supporting authors, publishing their works so they are available to children and young adults.

Meeting with the Librarian

On Wednesday after class, Cody and I met with the research librarian, Jack Bales. We have both met Mr. Bales when he came to talk to our English class about our research papers last semester. Since we have already gone through all of Mary Washington’s available databases and resources for research, the three of us jumped right in to finding articles about Culpeper’s ban on The Diary of Anne Frank. Mr. Bales had done some research prior to our meeting, and found one quote in particular that stuck out. In a Washington Post article*, an Alabama textbook company had stated that The Diary of Anne Frank was “a real downer” as a reason they did not include the story in their 1983 textbook. This was originally in the ALA’s article about farfetched reasons books have been banned, but the article has since been moved or deleted. Mr. Bales specifically remembered this quote and searched for this article, as he pulled it up he told us the wonders of Advanced Google Search. By the time our meeting was over, Cody and I had 46 articles bookmarked and the links sent to our inboxes. Some of these are repeats and some are not relevant to our case, but a good chunk of them are excellent material. We plan to sort through the rest of them Monday night after our classes.

Once we decided on our case, I read the passage that caused the challenge. It was a blunt description of her body, the same way that it would be presented in a sexual education class or friends talking to each other about it. Since this book is assigned in 8th grade, these students have already heard or experienced this human body explanation. It was barely a paragraph of a young girl and her anatomy, its not something that a student would remember from the book. I do understand why some people or rather parents would be uncomfortable with the topic, or how some teachers believe it does not add anything to the discussion, but if it does not add anything then you do not have to talk about it in class unless a student brings it up. Genitalia and the human body are perfectly natural, and are addressed in other books as well. Avoiding them in conversations does not make them disappear. I do emphasize more with the reluctance to publish this paragraph out of respect for Anne Frank, as she was not able to decide what was published and what was not. There is no way of telling whether she would be okay with this passage being read by the general public. This opinion is not the cause of the case though, and I do not think it would be relevant as the passage is already published.

While Reading through some of the articles and the cause for the challenge, a certain short story I read in 8th grade popped up in my head. The Scarlet Ibis, a short story that still makes me very upset. Reading about an older boy leaving his frail younger brother for dead in a rainstorm, and the connection between his blood and the dead red ibis in the front lawn made my stomach tight during class for a week. This is not to argue that this short story should be banned, it was an excellent piece of literature and examples of symbolism and a lesson of patience. In comparison between The Scarlet Ibis and The Diary Of Anne Frank passage, I would be more concerned about the former. The short story needs discussion and conversation, where as there are more important things to focus on in The Diary of Anne Frank, such as being an adolescent in Nazi Germany and the things Anne Frank experienced. In the long run, no student would remember the specific passage, but the meaning and impact of The Diary of Anne Frank. Thinking about this short story connection makes me want to know what other books are typically assigned to the 8th graders of Culpeper schools. It is more for my understanding and curiosity rather than the project itself, but depending on what books are on there the list could be useful.

*The Washington Post Article link may not work because it was through my schools database

Blog Post 1: Getting Started

In order to start this project, my partner, Cody, and I have been looking at different books that have been banned or challenged. While our basic searches have not turned up a lot of options so far, we have a good starting point. On the ALA banned books site, a county in Virginia had attempted to ban The Diary Of Anne Frank for homosexual themes. This is our top choice as of right now, but further research is required because we do not know where in Virginia it was challenged.  Another possibility is a case to involving the Roald Dahl books in Stafford County public schools. 

Since my partner and I went to the same high school, and were both very close with the librarian, we have decided to contact her to see if she can point us in the direction of any challenged books in our home town of Leesburg. We also have planned to go to the Fredericksburg library to see if they have records of any challenges against them or the public school system in recent years. This will also start a good connection with our local librarians that will be essential during the course of this project. I have found this preliminary research a bit daunting as I am not quite sure of the specific project requirements. I understand that we are researching censorship and finding a locally banned or challenged book, but I do not know what we are doing with this information. I am sure that the details will become clear as we have more class meetings and get further into the research, which will help guide my partner and I to the right book.

The readings for this class has given me insight to the type of book I would like to do. In Shattering the Looking Glass there was a bit of discussion about children’s books and the impacts they have. The author, Belinda Louie, wrote about how some parents do not want to expose their children to different ideas or cultures than their own. They do not realize that through this exposure is how children grow into empathetic, knowledgeable, and curious adults. While I agree that elementary school is not the proper time for certain topics, I believe with proper guidance from teachers and parents age appropriate books can benefit young minds. The section about publishers not wanting to publish a book about a Chinese girl in junior high because they believed American readers would not be interested in those stories struck me as odd. I vividly remember a series of American Girl Doll books my older sister and I used to read in elementary and middle school. Each book focused on girls in different cultures in different time periods. My favorite was Kathleen: The Celtic Knot, it told the story of a girl in Ireland during the Great Depression who wanted to join the Irish dance competition. It does not sound like these books hold important lessons, but they do. These books taught young girls about struggles and perseverance, the history of the time, and stories of other cultures. It was books that told these stories and experiences that gave me an appreciation for the wide range of voices and stories we can read today. Censoring these books limits the opportunities for growth in readers, and take away the chance to learn historical or cultural information in a fun or exciting way.  I did not know I was learning about the Great Depression, its cause, or its effects until much later in life. This connection to the reading has pushed me towards elementary school level books for the project, as this is a vital time for growth and understanding in a child’s life. 

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