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Violence in Childrens Literature

Annotated Bibliography
Natalie Kasling
Dr. Putman Childrens Literature
EDEC 30073


Annotated Bib #1
Critical Conversations- Issues of Social Class in Childrens Books
Written by Tammy Everett, Renita Schmidt and Linda Armstrong
Everett, T., Schmidt, R. R., & Armstrong, L. (2007). Critical conversations: Issues of social
class in childrens books. Book Links, 17(2), 48-50.+. Print.
This article provides guidelines for selecting books to teach different types of issues in our
society today. For instance, this article highlights key ways of teaching violence, gender
differences, race and religion to students in positive lights. This article gives examples for
diverse topics for teachers to use in their classrooms once his or her students have read a certain
book that is sensitive. Not only does this article gives examples, but it allows the teacher to teach
these darker themes and motifs in a more positive way, which in turn allows students to be
open in the classroom and think more critically. The article also gives feedback with how
students in the past have reacted to the stories, allowing the teacher to get a bit more perspective
on what to expect. There are example quotes on what to ask your students when talking about
such sensitive subjects and it gives good digger questions that let the teacher have students
analysis their own opinions. The article breaks down each book/subject into a matter of how to
let the children read the book, bring out important subjects, and then have the students openly
discuss their findings with each other and be willing to share with the class.

Our aim is to engage educators in what we call critical conversations in response to

childrens literature, ultimately bringing discussions of violence, religion, sexuality, race
and homelessness into classroom reading and conversation in positive and nonthreatening

ways (p. 1).

To explore multiple perspectives on class issues, pair each student with a partner and
instruct them to read the text together, pausing after each page to discuss what is

happening in the story and share thoughts and ideas about class (p.3).
Invite students to dramatize a scene or portray the characters in this book; students could
attempt to position themselves as [character 1] and then as [character 2] and reflect on the
experiences. How is one position different from the other? What is the difference between
being friends with someone and being someones friend? (p. 5).

Annotated Bib #2


Smoky Night and Crack: Controversial Subjects in Current Childrens Stories

Written by Dianne Koeknecke
This article takes different subject matters, such a violence and drug usage and highlights
ways to read them and analyze them in the classroom. Dianne Koeknecke, author of the article,
writes about the different pedagogy in the classroom and writes about how she uses illustrations
on screens while the reading is being done to emphasize how important the pictures are to each
story. Koeknecke continues to write about what she does to allow students to have their critical
thinking about the hard subjects. She allows the students plenty of opportunities to design their
own understanding and develop their own responses. She writes about how she communicates
with her students lightheartedly because these subjects are so intense. She wants to aim away
from teaching these subjects in such a negative way, because she wants the environment of her
classroom to be open for her students. She writes about how she understands these topics will
eventually be talked about, so she would rather openly talk about it upfront with her students
rather than shame away from them.

Readers can easily identify with a young boy in Smoky Night who, although frightened
by the violence in his neighborhood, is still able to offer profound insight into the reason

such behavior occurred (p.1).

I tried to show whats going on without being scary, Diaz says. Diaz, responding to the
controversy about whether a book dealing with this subject should even be considered a
childrens book, says he worked to make his artwork thoughtful and considerate and
believes the purpose of the book is to encourage discussion and an evaluation o attitudes

towards diversity (p.23).

We read the book aloud as we study these intense stories and illustrations. I usually
begin by reading each story aloud myself. Then we read it again, and this time I involve
the students in the read-aloud and volunteer read different pages (p.26).

Annotated Bib #3


Narrative and Violence

Written by Jennifer Armstrong
Armstrong, J. (2003). Narrative and violence. The Horn Book Magazine, 191-194.
Jennifer Armstrong does a fantastic job to narrate why talking to children about violent acts
is so moving and so powerful. She begins to list of examples as to why its even important in the
first place. She writes about how scares like the 9/11 attacks, and the anthrax scare are topics that
will be talked about between children whether we explain it to them or not. Because children are
going to talk about these violent acts, she writes about how its important to address issues
immediately to eliminate scare and panic for children. She continues to write about how different
genders, male or female, react to violent acts in literature differently. She writes about how boys
are more attracted to violent acts because they are more attracted to explosions, guns, alien
spaceships and more. She mentions how girls stray away from that, but still are fascinated with
reality of weapons and violence. The piece elaborates on the importance of books and how they
have such a big effect on children. Children are able to use their imaginations when they are
reading texts, such as texts that contain violence. Children are able to pull apart information and
really use the narration to the own interpretation. This is key, because without the books that
contain sensitive information, our children lack the ability to hold any interpretation of any type
of sensitive subject (bullying, violence, gender differences etc.). Armstrong writes about how
stories, narratives, pictures and more are all very important to share with children because it
gives them a safe way to show their own opinions and their own understandings.

Literature for children is where this transmission begins- and where it must begin if
civilization is going to be preserved. Supporting a world of young readers means that the
adults making decisions years from now will be civilized adults; our work is desperately

urgent. We have leaders to create

Frustration and futility result, and the only way to get the story over with is to bring on
destruction and chaos- guns, explosions, alien spaceships with powerful weapons
blowing everything to bits just so they can bring the curtain down on the drama they have
set in motions

Annotated Bib #4


Handling Violence in Childrens Literature

Written by Gloria Goodale
G.G. (1996, November 4). Handling violence in children's literature. Christian Science
Monitor. p. 13.
Gloria Goodale writes about Lois Duncan, a woman whose daughter was murdered in
Albuquerque, New Mexico. Duncan is the person being interviewed in this piece written by
Gloria Goodale. Duncan, being interviewed, says that for books, we are being compared to
movies, which eliminates the ability to gives children a sense of imagination and their own
opinion about violence. Children watch movies, and TV shows and see people get killed or die
and think nothing of it because its not personally affecting them nor do they really see the full
ramifications violence has. When it comes to a book, children are able to have their own
interpretation, especially if a teacher or educator is allowing children to have their own
interpretation about violence and how it should be handled. Duncan says that she is a big fan of
writing about intense themes, but firmly believes that these themes must be age appropriate. She
says that though children may not act like it, these themes and subjects that have intense
backgrounds can really harm a child if it is not handled appropriately. She says that it may even
wreck a child if they are exposed to violent behaviors as such a young age. Duncan is an
author and told Goodale that in her writing to children, she makes sure to not have the violence
itself as a climax, but more having the aftermath and consequences highlighted and dramatized
in her novels so that children can really understand what happens after violence has taken place.

Kids need to see the violence has serious ramifications, they need to see the pain it
causes, she declares noting that on television the violence itself is the climax, with no

time given to the aftermath.

Were competing with TV, but we can do what movies cant, namely get inside the heads

of those who grieve

Death is not real to many kids. They can see these same actors come right back in
another movie, creating the sense that its all just a game

Annotated Bib #5
Contextualizing Community Violence and Its Effects
Written by Eugene Aisenberg


Aisenberg, E., & Ell, K. (2005). Contextualizing community violence and its effects: An
ecological model of parent-child interdependent coping. Journal Of Interpersonal
Violence, 20(7), 855-871.
This source written by Eugene Aisenberg is centered around how children will be able to
cope with it comes to violence. Children in different neighborhoods have to go through different
things, different environments, and different family dynamics and a common location is a
classroom. Students will already have different viewpoints when it comes to violence and a
coping mechanism will have to be done by the teacher or educator. This article highlights many
different ways to incorporate violence in the classroom and towards children, specifically
younger children. Children need to talk about these issues and these matters. Why? Because
when children talk about these issues in the classroom, they are able to have a better and more
diverse understanding of social and cultural differences, as well as express their own opinion
about coping. Children having relation to violence in their home life are more likely (according
to this article and research) to have more behavioral issues in the classroom like depression and
or even PTSD and this article really highlights ways to eliminate those issues in the classroom
specifically. This article also touches on how to better manage parent-child relationships when it
comes to violence and how to talk about the impact of the environment of children when it
comes to reading sensitive subjects.

Neighborhoods are important distributors of social and cultural capital that may
influence and shape the growth and development of children and families living within

Culture plays an integral role as cultural interpretations and understanding shape the
meaning and use of violence. In addition, culture influences the expectations and
reactions by parents to children exposed to community violence and the way children and
parents understand and label their own experience of violence.







Annotated Bib #7
Tender Topics; Exploring Sensitive Issues with Pre-K through First Grade Children
through Read-Alouds


Written by Sue Mankiw and Janis Strasser

Mankiw, Sue and Strasser, Janis. (March 2013). Tender Topics; exploring sensitive issues with
pre-k through first grade children through read-alouds. Young Children. 84-88. Print
This source is very helpful because the authors have written out questions that teachers and
or mentors should be asking students when they are reading intense subject matter, and/or
violence specifically. These questions are targeted to really get students to focus on what they are
reading and to give their own opinion on the subject. For instance, some questions are as
followed; Does anyone know what violence is? Is (subject at hand) something that is good or
is something that is bad? When is this okay to talk about? Who wants to share their
opinion? Having questions like this in the classroom really allows the students to elaborate their
own calls on intense subject matter, or violence, and be free from any judgment calls. This
source also continues to explain to the teacher on the kind of ways to pick out the topics that are
chosen to read in class. For example, there are questions like do the illustrations or story lines
depict stereotypes? Are problems solved realistically in the story? Does the writing style
encourage discussions? It is very difficult for at teacher to be precise with how to chose books
with difficult subject matter, like violence, but this source really elaborates on how to go about
that. This is helpful in so many ways because without that, it would be difficult to make that

Using elements of critical literacy as you read to children supports exploration of tender
topics. Asking and answering questions and listening to childrens responses are

important elements when reading stories aloud

As you listen, you begin to understand their values and attitudes, learn about their

experiences with the topic, and if necessary, clarify their misconceptions

When talking about tender topics, finding out about childrens experiences and listening
to their ideas are first steps toward addressing misunderstands. In the classroom culture
where teachers, children and families listen to each other and respect each other, the
exploration of tender topics will be a collaborative effort.

Annotated Bib #8
Topics of Stress and Abuse in Picture Books for Children
Written by Wendy M. Smith-DArezzo and Susan Thompson
Smith-DArezzo, Wendy and Thompson, Susan. (June 2006). Topics of stress and abuse in


picture books for children. Childrens literature in education. 37:335-347

This source really highlights the importance of reading about topics such as violence, and
how students may or may not react. This is vitally important because a lot of the reason why
teachers stray away from talking about subjects such as violence is because they are unaware of
how children will react. This source discusses how to factor in the reality of what our students
will be facing while reading these picture books to students. This source explains how to really
target certain students that are dealing with violence in the household. For example, the source
says that we should ask, who is experiencing this back at home? By doing this, we open up the
door to students to really understand what violence is and to really talk about the violence that
they are dealing with at home. Whether a student is dealing with an older sibling hitting them
every now and then or dealing with an abusive parent that is really causing harm, the ability to
talk about violence in the classroom helps students cope and really talk about what they are
dealing with. This source ends by leaving a list of books that are appropriate to read aloud in
class that are both age appropriate and mature enough to discuss the subject at hand. The source
also gives example questions to ask the classroom once they have completed the book. This is
helpful because it allows an insight for the teacher to be fully prepared with questions, and books
at all times when dealing with this subject.

Providing children with reading material that is relevant to their lives is extremely

When young children first enter school at the age of five or six, they are beginning to
develop a sense of their own emotions. Empathy and sympathy are two of the emotions

that are developing in young children.

A second reason for including books that depict abuse and violence is the importance of
allowing children an outlet- a chance to talk to an adult if they are living in a stressful or
abusive environment. Evident in adult memoirs written about childhoods filled with
horrible abuse is the perception that the child has no one to turn to

Annotated Bib #9
The Impact of Violence on Children
Written by Joy D. Osofsky

Kasling 10
This source discusses how children who are actually affected with violence in the home life
may react when reading about violence in the classrooms. This source writes about all different
age ranges and how as children get older, their behavior will either get worse or enhance in a
positive way depending on what is going on at home. This source continues to say that if
students are exposed to violence back at home, they will have more and deeper opinions about
violence and what they think about it. It is, in fact, said to be a more positive learning ability to
talk about violence and when its appropriate. The source tells us that we are encouraged to push
students to read and talk about violence, not just as adolescents, but as teenagers as well. A lot of
students may have a very skewed view of what violence is and how its important to talk about.
The earlier students are able to be comfortable in talking about this sensitive subject, the more
willing they are to express their opinion. The source delivers research statistics about behavioral
research in their support to say how working with students about violence is better than avoiding
the subject. The source says that when we talk about violence, reporting to the why questions are
very important because this gets the students to think about their answers. For example, why do
we think violence is okay in certain times? and why is violence not a good thing? The source
wraps up the impact violence has on children, which is also very important to note.

Exposure to violence can have significant effects on children during their development

and as they form their own intimate relationships in childhood and adulthood.
While children are affected by violence exposure at all ages, less is known about the
consequences of exposure at younger ages, especially any long-term consequences. Many
people assume that very young children are not affected at all, erroneously believing that
they are too young to know or remember what has happen. In fact, however, studies
indicate that there are links between exposure to violence and negative behaviors in
children across all age ranges.

Annotated Bib #10

How to Talk to Kids About Sensitive Topics
Written by Amy L. Hayden and Illustrations by Lucy Knisley

Kasling 11

A good starting point is a statement that offers acceptance rather than judgment with
something such as I just want to let you know that if youre having feelings that are
different from other boys or girls, its okay to tell me because there is nothing you can say

to me thats going to make me any less proud of you, or love you any less
Instead of taking the big talk approach, look for opportunities in everyday conversation
to develop a dialogue with your kids