DEALING WITH SENSITIVE ISSUES USING CHILDREN'S LITERATURE

Children's Literature Page | Sensitive issues bibliographies

There are many resources that identify materials about sensitive issues and give suggestions for their use. Explore many of these tools but remember that each one presents only one set of possible options. Know the child, know the materials, and use your own judgment. Any such guide is outdated by the time it is available to us. Some of the materials are probably already out of print and new ones are available. Brief annotations of materials are not a substitute for careful reading and reflection on the part of the adult. Respect the young reader, his or her sense of self, and the ability to deal with a variety of issues in literature and in life. Provide a wide range of resources that project positive self images for all young people. Respect the literature. A good story, even a "problem novel" is far more than just the problem it presents. The prime purpose of literature is enjoyment; without that, it is unlikely that readers will achieve any secondary benefits from a literary work. Recognize that literary enjoyment leads to the development of an "educated imagination." Acknowledge that there is no single meaning or right interpretation of a literary work. Recognize that such resources cannot provide sufficient background information to deal adequately with sensitive issues. Sometimes we need to "unlearn" what we were taught to insure that our understanding of the world is more inclusive, more multicultural, and gender-fair. See, for example, the following works:

Allen, Paula Gunn. Off the Reservation: Reflections on Boundary-Busting, Border-Crossing Loose Canons. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1998.

Anderson, Bonnie S. and Judith P. Zinsser. A History of Their Own: Women in Europe from Prehistory to the Present. Vol. I and II. New York: Harper & Row, 1988.

Arrighi, Barbara A., ed. Understanding Inequality: The Intersection of Race/Ethnicity, Class, and Gender. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001.

Banks, James A. and Cherry A. McGee Banks, eds. Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives. 2nd. ed. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 1993.

Berlak, Ann and Sekani Moyenda. Taking It Personally: Racism in the Classroom from Kindergarten to College. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001.

Bhavnani, Kum-Kum. Feminism and "Race." New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Bigelow, Bill and Bob Peterson, eds. Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools, 1998.

Casella, Ronnie. "Being Down": Challenging Violence in Urban Schools. New York: Teachers College Press, 2001.

Combs, Cindy C. Encyclopedia of Terrorism. New York: Facts on File, 2002.

Dabulskis-Hunter, Susan. Outsider Research: How White Writers "Explore" Native Issues, Knowledge, and Experiences. Bethesda, MD: Academica Press, 2002.

Donaldson, Karen B. McLean. Shattering the Denial: Protocols for the Classroom and Beyond. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey, 2001.

Dyson, Anne Haas and Celia Genishi, eds. The Need for Story: Cultural Diversity in Classroom and Community. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1994.

Evans, Sara M. Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America. New York: Free Press, 1989.

Giovanni, Nikki. Racism 101. New York: Morrow, 1994.

Grobman, Laurie. Teaching at the Crossroads: Cultures and Critical Perspectives in Literature by Women of Color. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 2001.

Groves, Betsy McAlister. Children Who See Too Much: Lessons from the Child Witness to Violence Project. Boston: Beacon Press, 2002.

Hardy, Lyda Mary. Women in U.S. History: A Resource Guide. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 2000.

Hong, Maria, ed. Growing Up Asian American. New York: Morrow, 1993.

Howard, Gary. We Can't Teach What We Don't Know: White Teachers, Multiracial Schools. New York: Teachers College Press, 1999.

Iseke-Barnes, Judy M. and Njoki Nathani Wane, eds. Equity in Schools and Society. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press, 2000.

Jones, Gerard. Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence. New York: Basic Books, 2002.

Kailin, Julie. Antiracist Education: From Theory to Practice. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

Karr-Morse, Robin and Meredith S. Wiley. Ghosts From the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997.

LaGreca, Annette M., ed. Helping Children Cope with Disasters and Terrorism. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2002.

Lehr, Susan, ed. Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: The Construction of Gender in Children's Literature. Portsmouth, NH: Heineman, 2001.

McIntyre, Alice. Inner-City Kids: Adolescents Confront Life and Violence in an Urban Community. New York: New York University Press, 2000.

Mahalingam, Kam and Cameron McCarthy, eds. Multicultural Curriculum: New Directions for Social Theory, Practice, and Policy. New York: Routledge, 2000.

Mills, Kay. From Pocahontas to Power Suits: Everything You Need to Know About Women's History in America. New York: Plume, 1995.

Moraga, Cherríe and Gloria Anzaldúa, eds. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women of Color. New York: Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, 1981.

.National Women's History Project. Las Mujeres: Mexican American/Chicana Women. Windsor, CA: National Women's History Project, 1991.

Perry, Mark. Walking the Color Line: The Art and Practice of Anti-Racist Teaching. New York: Teachers College Press, 2000.

Perry, Theresa and James W. Fraser, eds. Freedom's Plow: Teaching in the Multicultural Classroom. New York: Routledge, 1993.

Ramos, Jorge. The Other Face of America: Chronicles of the Immigrants Shaping our Future. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.

Rogers, Theresa and Anna O. Soter, Eds. Reading Across Cultures: Teaching Literature in a Diverse Society. New York: Teachers College Press/NCTE, 1997.

Ruiz, Vicki and Ellen Du Bois, eds. Unequal Sisters: A Multicultural Reader in U.S. Women's History. 2nd. ed. New York: Routledge, 1994.

Simonson, Rich and Scott Walker, eds. The Graywolf Annual Five: Multi-Cultural Literacy. St. Paul, MN: Graywolf Press, 1988.

Spence, Christopher Michael. The Skin I'm In: Racism, Sports, and Education. Halifax, NS: Fernwood, 2000.

Spina, Stephanie Urso, ed. Smoke and Mirrors: The Hidden Context of Violence in Schools and Society. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000.

Stone, Lynda, ed. The Education Feminism Reader. New York: Routledge, 1994.

Thompson, Gail L. African American Teens Discuss their Schooling Experiences. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey, 2002.

Tizard, Barbara. Black, White, or Mixed Race?: Race and Racism in the Lives of Young People of Mixed Parentage. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Tobach, Ethel and Betty Rosoff, eds. Challenging Racism and Sexism: Alternatives to Genetic Explanations. New York: Feminist Press, 1994.

Trimmer, Joseph and Tilly Warnock, eds. Understanding Others: Cultural and Cross-Cultural Studies and the Teaching of Literature. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1992.

Van Ausdale, Debra and Joe R. Feagin. The First R: How Children Learn Race and Racism. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2001.

Walker, Alice. In Search of Our Mother's Garden. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983.

West, Cornel. Race Matters. New York: Beacon Press, 1993.

Often suggestions for particular books are interchangeable. Read through the whole section of materials on a topic to get ideas for follow-up activities.

Get parents, caregivers, or other family members involved in young people's reading. Start early to encourage children to talk with their families about books and to share responses in school discussions. Invite parents into the school to join in literary discussions about critical issues.

Recognize that there are strongly held personal or religious beliefs that may cause individuals or groups to object to discussions of some topics and/or resources. Remember that studying a list of resources related to young people's problems is not a license to practice bibliotherapy. A caring adult can only help so much before referring a youngster to those with specialized training.

 

Children's Literature Page | Sensitive issues bibliographies

Created September 20, 1995 and is continuously revised
SCILS, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey