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Illustrations & Language in Children's Literature

As Sims argues, ˘Culturally conscious literature is that in which the author is sensitive to aspects of African American culture and consciously seeks to depict a fictional Afro-American life experience.÷

In an increasingly diverse culture and classroom, it is even more significant that both text and illustrations retain accuracy and validity for diverse readers. However, the representation of African Americans in text and/or illustration appears to be related to shifting views of race relations in American culture and society. In Culture and Conflict, authors Pescosolido, Grauerholz, and Milkie investigate illustrations or images of Blacks in U.S. childrenĂs literature between 1937 and 1993. It is not only the inclusion of negative or stereotypical imagery that can undermine a cultureĂs validity and provide negative perspectives to child readers but it is also the symbolic annihilation of African American their absence. In reviewing a variety of books from this period, the authors maintain that the relationship between text and illustration depended on larger socially-oriented views of race, maintaining the books show ˘the power struggles, reflected in racial conflict in the larger society as they relate to symbolic representationÓstereotypes of blacks may not have been eliminated but changed in character, taking subtler and more indirect forms,÷ (Pescosolido, et al., p. 444-45).


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