University Libraries & Learning Sciences Faculty Publications

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2-13-2014

Abstract

In 1992, the 500th anniversary of Columbuss landing in the Bahamas was simultaneously celebrated and denounced in the US. Damaging facts about Columbus and the impact of his voyages were aired along with demands for truth and change. This study analyzes the power relationships and political ideology of picturebooks about Columbus published in the US in the 20 years since that anniversary to determine what messages and attitudes young readers are likely to absorb from them and whether the picturebook image of Columbus has evolved. It draws on the ideas of progressive educator Herbert Kohl, who demonstrates how the analysis of power relationships in stories reveals their political stance (Should We Burn Babar?, 1995), and on the tradition of progressive librarianship, which seeks to promote intellectual freedom and positive images in children's literature of all peoples. The study finds extensive use of certain narrative techniques, including patterns of assumptions, avoidance, event selection, and omission. Patterns in illustration and sentence structure (use of passive voice, etc.) as well as stereotyping and Eurocentrism also abound. Finally, mild historical revisionism is introduced in more ''balanced'' titles, though the definition of balance is problematic. This article finds that the Columbus myth persists with little change, and that few titles present child readers with alternative perspectives.'

Publisher

Springer

Publication Title

Children's Literature in Education

ISSN

0045-6713

Volume

45

Issue

3

First Page

179

Last Page

196

Language (ISO)

English

Keywords

Christopher Columbus; power; ideology; picturebooks; illustration; Native Americans

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