POSTMODERN INTERROGATION OF CHILDREN¡¯S LITERATURE AND POSSIBILITIES IN LITERACY EDUCATION BY MEANS OF POSTMODERN PICTURE BOOKS

Open Access
Author:
Yun, Eunja
Graduate Program:
Curriculum and Instruction
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
September 24, 2007
Committee Members:
  • Daniel Dean Hade, Committee Chair
  • Jamie Myers, Committee Member
  • Miryam Espinosa Dulanto, Committee Member
  • Patricia Marie Amburgy, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • children literature
  • postmodernism
  • postmodern picture books
  • deconstructive approaches
  • literacy education
  • multiliteracies
Abstract:
The growing advent and presence of unconventional, postmodern picture books over the past two decades mirror the cultural and social changes effected by postmodern conditions. The process of reading and dialoguing with postmodern texts and narratives certainly situates readers in roles different from the ones we have been used to. Drawing upon the interconnected relations among children¡¯s literature, social reality, and child readers, and by examining preservice teachers¡¯ reading, understanding, and assumptions about postmodern picture books, this study seeks to interrogate children¡¯s literature through challenging the general assumptions about it. An expanded definition of children¡¯s literature poses it not merely as a genre of literature but more as a space for connection, tolerance, compassion, and possibilities through releasing the reader¡¯s imagination, a notion supported by data from preservice teachers and child readers. The modes and resources of texts have become multimodal, particularly more visual-oriented cross-media hybrids than ever before. This phenomenon makes new and different demands on the reader, and thus the meaning of being literate also changes. Data from students in two summer camps indicate that children are able readers as well as active in the roles of coauthor and critic by making meanings, weaving stories, and bringing new and different perspectives into stories. The primary finding of this research is that postmodern picture books have the potential to help children develop a new and different literacy through their situating children in active roles with authority and agency as meaning-makers and designers. Play in these roles is crucial in forming multiliteracies. In addition, by presenting the authors¡¯ attempts to empower children by using picture books dealing with different traumas, this study offers a non-conventional perspective on children and children¡¯s literature. This study contributes toward evincing how children¡¯s literature, the meaning of being literate, and the notions of children and childhood are socially and culturally contingent and have aligned with one another over time and place. This understanding should prompt teachers, librarians, and parents to think about how to help children not only be literate but become literate as an ongoing process through using the ever-evolving resources of children¡¯s literature.