My librarian friend and sometimes commenter on this blog (Venta, I’m talkin’ about you) have talked often about how rare it is to find literature for children and young adults that includes poor or working class characters that are neither victims nor on the inevitable road to self-improvement.
So, much gratitude to Stephanie Jones who is on the hunt for exactly such books and seems to be hitting paydirt.
Is there other such literature out there to be found?
I don’t know if you clicked on my page with a short list of children’s literature foregrounding issues of class – if not, check that out.
I love Jerry Spinelli for older readers (or read-alouds for younger ones) and this summer I read his newest book: Eggs. It’s another classic. Another one of my favorites by him is Stargirl.
I can’t tell you how riveted Hayden (my 6 year old little girl) is to these Barbara O’Connor books – and they’re quite lengthy and complex. One night she was telling me that the “pictures in her mind” of the character who owned the tattoo parlor looked like my Uncle Roger (her great uncle). I’m thrilled that she can make meaningful connections between literature and our family and have our experiences validated so beautifully and naturally…I was never able to do that as a student.
Thanks everyone for the suggestions so far — and yes, everyone — go look at Stephanie’s Engaged Intellectual Blog. I’m always interested in building this list — so keep those ideas coming.
Lois Lenski’s farming children series “Strawberry Girl” “Cotton in My Sack” etc. My mother who grew up on a tenant farm thinks highly of these and read them to us. They may seem a little dated.