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Monologue: “Reading for Life Experience”

As adults we have built up many barriers that affect how we relate to the world we live in. Prejudice, sexism, stereotyping, and fear are just a few of these barriers. Some of these, such as fear of snakes, for example, can be beneficial for us. Others, such as prejudice, are more destructive.  It seems that it is the experiences and events that happen to all of us during the growing-up process, that provide the context for us to develop these barriers. For example, a child may take on a protective shell of fear of snakes after receiving a bite. A teenager may take on a barrier of racial prejudice in order to fit in with a local peer group.


 No matter what the barrier is, these types of boundaries only close the doors of possibility for children. A fear of snakes may shut the door to the entire world of wonderfully uncanny reptiles. The barrier of racial prejudice closes young people off from potential friends, and if it leads to violence, entire lives of possibility can be cut short. Author, Susan Cooper has observed that young people react to books in a very uncomplicated manner. Young people experience literature with much the same attitude grown-ups have when they have just fallen in love. Children surrender to books with complete acceptance, warmth, and generosity. Because children are more accepting, children's literature is more apt to present anything at all without barriers. Because authors of children’s books write to an intended audience of children, this gives them a slate of literary elements to work with that allows them to convey stories with candid honesty. 


It seems then that books can present world views that are free of barriers. The contrasts between characters who live with and without barriers show children more positive ways of living. By exposing them to numerous events and to many different views of life, reading assists young people as they break down their own boundaries. So, a book like I (Don’t) Like Snakes by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Luciano Lozano, may just help break down a barrier of fear. And, a book like Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper may break down barriers of prejudice. Children close their open doors of potential and create barriers because they are frightened by the perceived evils that lurk around them. So, we figure here at Worlds Awaiting that it’s up to us as the adults, to show children through great books just how to have the courage to break down a few barriers.

 

I (Don’t) Like Snakes by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Luciano Lozano.  Candlewick Press, 2015.

Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper.  Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015.

 

 From Rachel Wadham, Host, WORLDS AWAITING


DISCLAIMER:

At Worlds Awaiting we discuss a wide range of information aimed at supporting adults who want to build literacy skills in their children.   We understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to children’s development, so the information we provide is intended to reach a wide audience. The books and other resources we recommend will also naturally cover a wide range of interests and subject matter that addresses a range of maturity, reading, and comprehension levels.  Since no one understands a child’s needs better than their caretakers, we encourage families to critically select the books and resources that meet their own individual needs and standards.

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