DIFFERING PERSPECTIVES ON SCHOOL SEGREGATION ISSUES IN AMERICAN CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOKS

Keywords: racial segregation, American schools, picture books, text-image relationships, children’s literature

Abstract

Aim. School segregation is a common theme of children’s books on minority groups living in the United States. Although it is primarily associated with black-white racial divisions, currently it also concerns white-Latino or rich-poor disparities. The aim of this paper is to analyse children’s picture books featuring Latino and African American characters who participate in the struggle against school segregation. The authors of the books, being members of racial minorities themselves, offer differing perspectives on the problem. Although they criticise school segregation, they also focus on the white perspective and the reasons why integrating schools has always been hard to achieve.

Methods. The study analyses the visual and verbal narratives of selected picture books using a variety of methods for examining this literary format. Among others, it applies the theory of picture book analysis by Martin Painter, William Moebius, Maria Nikolajeva and Carole Scott.

Results. The article shows that despite the existing scholarship on race-related problems in American schools, children’s literature seems to be the medium which tries to explain the problem to youngsters being directly involved in the system of segregation.

Conclusions. The results can be useful to educators who cope with the issue of racial diversity in American schools. They may consider using selected titles of children’s literature as teaching aids assisting students from minority groups in the process of self-development and empowerment.

Author Biography

Ewa Klęczaj-Siara, Faculty of Philology and Pedagogy, Kazimierz Pulaski University of Technology and Humanities in Radom, ul. Chrobrego 31, 26-600 Radom

Assistant Professor at the Faculty of English, Casimir Pulaski University of Technology and Humanities in Radom. She obtained her PhD in American Literature in 2014 from Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin. Her dissertation was published as a monograph Pokochać czerń. Dziedzictwo myśli W.E.B. Du Boisa w książkach dla dzieci Nikki Giovanni, Faith Ringgold i bell hooks in 2015. Her academic interests encompass ethnic American children’s literature. More currently, her research focuses on the intersection of race and place in contemporary African American children’s picture books. She is a member of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature (IRSCL). [e.kleczaj@uthrad.pl]

References

Bridges, R. (1999). Through My Eyes. New York: Scholastic Press.

Delmont, M. (2016). The Lasting Legacy of the Busing Crisis. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/03/the-boston-busing-crisis-was-never-intended-to-work/474264/.

Dowd Hall, J. (2005). The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of the Past.

The Journal of American History, Vol. 91, No. 4: 1233-1263.

Kohli, S. (2014). Modern-Day Segregation in Public Schools. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/11/modern-day-segregation-in-public-schools/382846/.

Martin, M. H. (2004). Brown Gold: Milestones of African-American Children’s Picture Books, 1845-2002. New York and London: Routledge.

Meatto, K. (2019). Still Separate, Still Unequal: Teaching about School Segregation and Educational Inequality. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/02/learning/lesson-plans/still-separate-still-unequal-teaching-about-school-segregation-and-educational-inequality.html.

Michelson, R. (2019). Busing Brewster. Jeffrey, NH: David R. Godine, Publisher.

Morrison, T. (2004). Remember: The Journey to School Integration. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Reardon, S. F., & Owens, A. (2014). 60 Years After Brown: Trends and Consequences of School Segregation. The Annual Review of Sociology, 40:199–218.

Schall, J. M., Lopez-Robertson, J., & Fain, J. G. (2019). Examining the Visual in Latinix Immigrant Journey Picturebooks. In H. Johnson, J. Mathis and K. G. Short (eds.), Critical Content Analysis of Visual Images in Books for Young People: Reading Images. New York and London: Routledge.

Stancil, W. (2018). School segregation is not a myth. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/03/school-segregation-is-not-a-myth/555614/.

Tonatiuh, D. (2014). Separate is never equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation. New York: Abram Books for Young Readers.

Weatherford, C. B. (2006). Dear Mr. Rosenwald. New York; Routledge.

Published
2020-09-11
How to Cite
Klęczaj-Siara, E. (2020). DIFFERING PERSPECTIVES ON SCHOOL SEGREGATION ISSUES IN AMERICAN CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOKS. Journal of Education Culture and Society, 11(2), 322-334. https://doi.org/10.15503/jecs2020.2.322.334