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Forums > Social Chat > The dealing with of Race in Children's books.

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Location: Rotherham, UK
Member Since: 4th Mar 2003
Total posts: 724
Posted:Ok guys, i could do with some help. I'm studying Illustration at degree level, and im going to be writing my dissertation next year.
The dissertation is going to be a comparison of two authors/illustrators from early 1900's, and two present day, to show how attitudes to the representation of race in childrens illustration/writing have changed.
If anyone has any useful information or ideas it would be really appreciated.ie. books recommendations, websites etc.

Only when the last tree has died
and the last river has been poisoned
and the last fish has been caught
will we realise that we
cannot eat money.

Cree Indian, 1909

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield
Member Since: 28th Aug 2002
Total posts: 3252
Posted:Any childrens books with golliwog characters would probably be relevant.

I'm not sure but didn't the 'Noddy' books have one? I seem to rememeber that there were some problems with its political correctness.

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Location: London/ Surrey
Member Since: 15th May 2003
Total posts: 1359
Posted:indeed, when they wated to put the books back in print, first all the illustrations had to be re-done, taking out the gollies and putting evil teddy bears in their place as the bad guys.

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The pessimist fears this is true.

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Location: Rotherham, UK
Member Since: 4th Mar 2003
Total posts: 724
Posted:Thanx for the advice, i'm going to use noddy with the golliwogs indians etc as one of them. I might be using 'Little Black Sambo' as another as it is considered very controversial now. If anyone has their own views on race issues in childrens' book, that would be a great help, it is always useful to see other peoples views.

Only when the last tree has died
and the last river has been poisoned
and the last fish has been caught
will we realise that we
cannot eat money.

Cree Indian, 1909


Member Since: 20th May 2003
Total posts: 55
Posted:It's a little later than early 1900's, but I would dig up a copy of Disney's "Song of the South." Only Disney movie I will not let my daughter own. If she wants to see it she can, but we are going to have a long talk after.

Mistress Aurora
Mistress Aurora

Hot Schtuff
Location: Stillwater,OK/Wichita Falls,TX
Member Since: 19th Jan 2003
Total posts: 1032
Posted:A few years ago the education system had a problem with one of Mark Twain's books. It was the Huckfin book or related thereof. Instead of teaching the students that as they read the book to keep in mind the time frame it was written in, they just banned it from the school curriculum. It had the "N" word in it and they didn't want to offend people by having them read it.

There was two books at our public library that had a huge uproar over, but it wasn't related to race. It was the Heather Has Two Mommies and (I can't remember the name of the other book, but it was over having two dads). That was the first time I have ever heard of or seen books over homosexuality come out for children to read.

Hope that helps you out alil more

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the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA
Member Since: 15th Dec 2000
Total posts: 6193
Posted:Song of the South character was based on the Children's Stories of Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit, which are told by Uncle Remus. He is an old black slave character who is presented with horrible grammar and speech. It is really incredible, and difficult to read. I have a collection of the stories here which is really amazing.

Black Sambo is a good one as well.

Snow Bear by Jean Craighead George deals with and Innuit child.

Lan Po Po is a chinese fairy tale which tells of 3 Chinese girls who defeat a wolf breaking into their home to eat them. Then again The Seven Brothers tell of 7 brothers with extraordinary powers who defeat the death sentence using them. Hmmm...thinking about it, why do all the chinese childrens book have these supercharged people in them while the ones dealing with us whities put us in the victim place? The Magic Paintbrush gives a young (I believe Chinese) peasant the ability to paint whatever he wants and have it come to life, thus elevating his social standings by pleasing the Emporer.

There is a contemporary book called Tar Beach which depicts ghetto living in inner cities, and how the roof top is like a community recreation area.
There is one called Gollum, which deals with the trials of the Jewish Community from a historic sense and how they raised a Gollum to protect themselves. It is amazingly strong emotionally for a childrens book.

Does it have to be a real race? Or can it depict racism? Dr. Suess did that with the Star Bellied Sneeches (sp???), and then so did Max Lucado in the book You Are Special, which dealt with small wooden people called Wemmicks.

What about the picture books about Huck Finn and Mark Twain and their friend Jim. Those are not always good depictions either.

Hmmm....I might be able to come up with more if I think about it. I saw one book where the Ugly Duckling was black and the others were white....wish I could remember the name.

(I loved Children's Lit class!)

Hope this helps!
Best of luck!

[ 25. July 2003, 03:28: Message edited by: Pele ]

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Location: Brisbane
Member Since: 9th Apr 2003
Total posts: 3044
Posted:i heard somewhere that dedicated Ku Klux Klan members forbid their kids to watch Sesame Street and Barney because it depicts black and white kids playing together.
if you went to a kkk website you may be able to find a list of recommended childrens books or something similar.

in reference to gollywogs and noddy, i read about a NZ school student who analysed the plots of every noddy story statistically, and concluded that noddy was not racist. the gollywogs accounted for less that 5% (i think) of disasters. the most common culprit was the monkey. in summary - noddy was framed!!

"Here kitty kitty...." - Schroedinger.

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