Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: The Construction of Gender in Children's Literature

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Heinemann, 2001 - Literary Criticism - 211 pages
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Children select role models from their friends, movies, television, and books. As teachers, librarians, and parents, we can provide alternative roles that present well-rounded male and female characters who have choices and options. How we can do this through the many genres in children's literature is the subject of this fine collection of essays. Beauty, Brains, and Brawn offers diverse perspectives on what it means to be a male or female child in children's literature, presenting stimulating views from the field's best-known authors, illustrators, and educators. The award-winning authors and illustrators include Jerry Pinkney, Katherine Paterson, Mem Fox, Gary Paulsen, Virginia Hamilton, Karen Cushman, Andrea Pinkney, Paul Zelinsky, and Patricia and Frederick McKissack. They talk about their motivation for creating the boys and girls in their books and they examine the child as audience. Essays from educators explore larger issues related to current research on gender and the classroom, multiethnic experiences and gender, and gender portrayals in contemporary fiction, historical fiction, and picture books. Topics include parental roles in books for children, the kinds of books available for very young children and the gender issues housed within them, diversity and gender, the politics of gender and gender stereotypes in children's literature, finding authentic female and male voices in historical fiction, and the clash of conservative and liberal values in children's literautre. Popular images in the media are also considered, such as the impact of Disney cartoon movies like Mulan or Pocahontas, and the populatiry of the Harry Potter books. Gender issues related to the adolescent in young adult literature have been written about extensively. The same has not been true for children's literature. Beauty, Brains, and Brawn is one of the first books to focus on gender issues directly related to the experiences of the child in children's literature. -- from back cover.

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About the author (2001)

A professor of reading and children's literature at Skidmore College, Susan Lehr earned her Ph.D. in reading and children's literature at The Ohio State University in 1985. Her reader-response research with young children has been described extensively in her two books, Battling Dragons: Issues and Controversy in Children's Literature (Heinemann, 1995) and The Child's Developing Sense of Theme.

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