Author Archives: Chelsie Burchett

Post about research/project – Chelsie

My research has allowed me to learn a multitude of information about how the classroom should revolve around diversity and how to facilitate cultural inclusion in a lesson plan. Ultimately, it’s never too early for school aged children to learn about the importance of diversity within the classroom. People often underestimate the intelligence of children, and the influence that literature can have on their perception of others.


It is imperative that children are able to see a representative of themselves in the literature that they read. Literature also has the power to transform children’s perception of the world. The importance of a child being able to relate to the positive characters in a book can facilitate strong self-esteem, decrease bullying, and help children be okay with those who may be different than them. Unfortunately, a lot of children’s literature is not equally represented amongst all races.


My research analyzes how teachers and parents are probably the most responsible for teaching children about the importance of having non-stereotypical depictions within literature. Additionally, when teachers are conscious of their own biases or stereotypical views, they are able to make the proper adjustments to their curriculum in order to effectively include all children and their cultures in their lessons.


When all cultures are included, it teaches children that there is not a difference in value of one over the other. Additionally, when children are taught from an early age about diversity, they will not have to question the inclusion of others or why some races may feel as though there are negative biases towards them, because they will already have an understanding of the topic. Overall, my paper is a call to action for all types of educators to really make a difference in the way diversity is brought into the classroom. Literature is highly influential on a child’s development, and I advocate for educators to utilize literature to discourage stereotypes and biases that may be harmful.

Adding a Disability Perspective When Reading Adolescent Literature

Brian Ripley Crandall adds an insightful lense of which to view, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Crandall has the readers examine what it must fee like to be a child with a disability, of whom already has a lot going against him/her, and yet the system in which they are supposed to thrive, is the very same one that is letting them down. Crandall uses The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian to look at what it means to be “normal” and “able”.


Crandall discusses how Arnold’s disability is second to the success he achieves throughout the books. Between Arnold’s heritage and his disability, a picture is really painted as to how divided the educational system truly is in America. The inherent structure of the school system on the reservation sets the Indian children up for failure. Between the textbooks that are 30 years old, and the white teachers who were taught to break the students down and strip them of their culture in order to make them a “better child.” Crandall makes a parallel between how the reservation school systems are set up, to the way in which many children with disabilities are taught in marginalized classrooms. The denial of an equitable education for Arnold, is a metaphor for the denial that children with disabilities have at a fair chance at education due to exclusion from better classes and schools.


Crandall gives us a side-by-side of the medical model for disabilities and the socially constructed model, which raise awareness to the true intentions of the “special” education system. He then raises a call to arms for educators, stating that we need to be cognizant of the socially constructed model. As educators it is important to acknowledge that many students may come from disregarded populations and the curriculum that is taught to these children can be faciliatating that environment. Whereas, froma medical perspective, we need to stop thinking that because a child has a disability, they need to be diagnosed, quarantined and fixed in order to get them to be as close to normal as possible. “The argument can be made that a mecial model for treating disability as abmormal is similar to creating Indian reservations designed to keep Native Americans from the rest of society.”


I believe in Crandall’s analysis of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian he does a good job of providing the perspective of a child with disabilities. The book is a great tool for educators to draw from Arnold’s life, along with the wide range of difficulties that Arnold faces. Crandall touches on the fact that those who may have a disability, or those who are a minority, or of the majority, can learn from Arnold’s story and really get a dialogue started. I know that his focus is on children of disabilities, however he does mention several times the inherent racism of the school system that Arnold faces, but does little to expand on how hard it is for Arnold to be of not one, but two minorities, and still overcome the obstacles he endures. Or that it took a white man telling him that he could be great despite all of the things that were going againt him for Arnold to realize his true potential. With all of that being said, I still think that Crandall does a great job of bringing attention to an issue that deserves and needs awareness.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian – Method (Chelsie)

I suppose I should start by saying that I loved The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. Sherman Alexie and Ellen Forney provided an excellent story accompanied by equally excellent illustrations. Alexie provides a perspective of what it’s like to be a 14-year-old teenage boy who comes from a Native American reservation, which is semi-biographical, being that the reservation that he describes is the same one that he is from.

Much like the protagonist, Arnold Spirit Jr, Alexi was also named after his father. Some additional parallels between Arnold’s life and Alexi’s were that they both suffered from an excess amount of cerebral fluid in their brains as infants, which required surgery to be preformed, their fathers were both alcoholics, and they were both star basketball players after going to school off of the reservation.

As we walk through Arnold’s life, we meet the members of his family, of whom he loves dearly. We also meet his best friend Rowdy, of whom Arnold feels the closest with. Rowdy was more than Arnold’s best friend, he was his protector, and his companion. They seem to be complete opposites, whereas Arnold was fragile and not afraid to express his emotions, Rowdy had this “tough” appearance on the outside, and was supposedly even tougher on the inside. With that being said, Rowdy and Arnold mean the world to one another. Arnold likes to do things that make Rowdy happy, and loves to hear him laugh, wheras Rowdy is somewhat of Arnold’s night in shining armor, who is always there when Arnold needs him most. Evidence of that appears in the third chapter when Arnold states, “I think Rowdy might be the most important person in my life. Maybe more important than my family. Can your best friend be more important than your family?”

Additonally, Rowdy has a habit of making homophobic jokes or comments towards Arnold, which makes one wonder if he is trying to suppress homophobic feelings of his own? When Arnold asks him for love advice, or confesses that he has a crush on a girl at school, Rowdy instantly shuts him down and discourages Arnold from the affectionate feelings he has for girls.

Arnold’s continuous comments about his teenage hormones for females are surely alive and well. The word “boner” is generously referenced throughout the book surprisingly in many different ways. He talks of masturbation and other typical tribulations that a 14-year-old teenage boy will go through.

As we walk through many days in the life of a young boy from the Spokane Indian Reservation, some of the harshest realities become relevant in his story. We learn of the extreme poverty that plauges many Indian reservations. And that the money that so many people think Indians are receiving from the government, is simply not reality. For goodness sakes, the children that were in the school systems today are using the same textbooks that their parents used when they were in school! We also learn that drinking alchohol frequently is the norm for those who live on the reservation. Most people drink past the point of intoxicated and make poor decisions that they can’t take back.

Alexie walks us through the inherent racism of the towns that are near the reservation, and within the reservation itself. He showed us the beauty of reading through one of Arnold’s closest and most intelligent friends, Gordy. Gordy taught Arnold a lot, but one of the most important things that he said was, “Listen… You have to read a book three times before you know it. The fist time you read it or the story. The plot. The movement from scene to scene that gives the book its momentum, its rhythm. Its like riding a raft down a river. Youre just paying attention to the currents… The second time you read a book, you read it for its history. For its knowledge of history. You think about the meaning of each word, and where that word came from…”

When his newly formed white friends from Reardan discover that Arnold is poor, and that he often walks of hitchhikes to/from school, we discover what it means to have amazing friends who took the time to get to know the outsider Indian boy from the reservation. But we also are able to see the unity and support that Arnold’s family provides for him. He compares his alcoholic father, who disappears from time to time, to the white fathers who Arnold notices he never sees supporting their children. He realizes that those who come from the Indian reservation may not be perfect, but they are loyal to those they love.

I found this book to be strong because Alexie shows every angle of what it means to be in Arnold’s shoes. He enriched our minds about the trials and tibulations that Indians are still facing due to the colonization of their land. A range of issues are addressed, such as racism, bulimia, poverty, homophobia, death, addiction, and more. This book truly takes you on a whirlwind of emotions.

Method: Brown Gold. Michelle Martin

Michelle Martin provided a very detailed account of the struggles of African American’s and their ability to see a reflection of themselves in children’s picture books. From illustrators, to authors, to the children who are taught by society that being black is “ugly”. Martin gives summary after summary of both racist books that paint African American’s in a stereotypical light, and of children’s books that uplift and encourage African American readers. She also tackles her struggles of being inclusive of those writers who write positive children’s books about African Americans, who are not African American themselves.

With that struggle she speaks about the many teams that stem from interracial authors, who write groundbreaking children’s books that she would have to exclude if she ONLY wanted to incorporate authors who were African American. For instance, Nina Crews (Black) and Ann Jonas’ (White) children’s book, You Are Here (1998). Ultimately she makes the decision to be inclusive of authors of all types of races who choose to write about African Americans. Within the introduction on page xix, Martin quotes Judith Thompson as an explanation for her decision to be inclusive


Whether a writer is white or black, if he immerses himself in the

history of a period or in the life of a man, he must to some degree

“wear the shoe” to report the experience accurately… The

credentials of a writer who undertakes abook about blacks must

include a black perspective based on an appreciation of lack


Martin continues on to discuss the racist books that were published prior to the Golden age that she describes for African American’s in literature. Children’s books, such as The Story of Little Black Sambo, that gave white children an image of African Americans, to be dark caricatures, with big, bright red lips, and curly or Afro hair, which in general “demeans and ridicules” black children. All the while obliterating any positive self-image an African American child might have had about themselves.

Without a doubt the most shocking and appalling children’s books Martin mentions in Brown Gold is one the that the publishers, the McLoughlin Brothers produced called The Ten Little Niggers. One by one the human beings are eliminated from the book through acts of violence or carelessness. She quotes the book, which has several different versions, “ Ten Little Nigger Boys went out to dine;/ One choked his little self, and that left nine.” The mockery that is made of African Americans is so blatant, and disrespectful. The McLoughlin Brothers even go on to publish an updated version of the book years latter, where the “boys” now look like men, yet are still referred to as boys. Martin and I agree that this was an intentional and strategic move that black men are viewed as less than men as a sign of disrespect. Some other prejudiced books against African Americans in the late nineteenth century include, A Cook Alphabet, The Sad End of Erica’s Blackamoor, Pickaninny Namesake, to name a few.

However in the 1920’s there was a turning point in picture books. The Brownie’s Book Magazine was the first magazine for black children, of which the creators wanted African American children and young adults to educate them about the accomplishments of other African Americans that have come before them, and to see black people as not ugly individuals who have not contributed anything important to society. They also developed a seven-point objective for their publication. Number 1 is “To make colored children realize that being “colored” is a normal beautiful thing.”

Other Afro-centric books were published as the golden age evolved. Moja Means One: Swahili Counting Book (1971), Jambo Means Hello: Swahili Alphabet Book (1974), were two extremely important children’s books that connected African American children with their roots in Africa through language and illustration. Later Martin discusses the importance as something that seems minor, but honestly had been a topic of importance for African Americans. How nappy hair is beautiful, is natural, and not something that black children should be ashamed of. In the book Nappy Hair, the protagonist has the most “nappiest hair in the world”, but God has determined it to be beautiful and that one nap on her hair is “the only perfect circle in nature”. How beautiful a statement this is, how uplifting and encouraging it is for little black children to read this, or have it read to them and to understand the significance that every part of them has in the eyes of God.

Martin gives a very thorough account of the good and the bad sides of history in the evolution of children’s picture books for African American children. She undoubtedly captivated my attention with the detailed accounts that are sometimes appalling, and sometimes inspiring. I commend her for writing Brown Gold as she did.

Freud in Oz – Primary

As a psychology major and future psychologist, I found Freud in Oz to be quite fascinating.  Kenneth Kidd does an excellent job of analyzing the intersection of psychoanalysis with the different forms of children’s literature.  Kidd also gives an extremely comprehensive summary of the literature revolving that intersection.  Not only does he look at The Wizard of Oz, but he also looks at many other texts and gives a vivid account of how psychoanalysis played a major role in their themes and methods.

Kidd addressed many interesting points within the reading, but the two following points in particular stuck out to me; a) The Hidden Adult, of which Rose mentions this theory of children’s literature that is derived in part from psychoanalysis, and the literature allows the child to receive a message that the adult cannot and will not directly convey; b) Picture books and the important impact that they had on psychoanalysis.  Books, such as Where the Wild Things Are were embraced as a psychological primer, “a story about anger and its management through fantasy”, and Freud’s voice is extremely vocal within the tale.

Kidd does not attempt to rework Rose and Nodelman by writing Freud in Oz, much rather he takes instructions from both of them, most notably Nodelman.  Kidd seems to be less interested in theorizing children’s literature by psychoanalysis, however he does look to examine the mutual ties of the two discourses. Kidd also touches upon the Americanization of children’s literature and the sacrificial nature in which the protagonists often make sacrifices to prove that they are mature.  Which therefore shields children from enduring traumatic experiences, simply because the fictional character goes through it for them.  Which ties back to the Hidden Adult being ever-present in children’s literature, providing a very important moral lesson for the child readers and listeners.

In the first chapter, Kidd speaks heavily about Freud and his connection to fairy tales.  There was a transition period where fairy tales went from being stories for adults to being for children.  As per Maria Tartar, this was a long process, and a prime example of such texts is Grimms.  However, Freud’s method of addressing fairy tales was very similar to how he approached his theories on dreams.  Freud believed that fairy tales were symptomatic expressions of wish fulfillment and they play out dynamics of sexual repression.  For example, the “Oedipus Complex” was first a folklore that Freud transitioned into one of his most popular theories.

Kidd pays recognition to Franz Ricklin, a clinical psychiatrist that blends fairy tale analysis with patient case histories effectively and beautifully. Whereas for Freud, the fairy tale offered something like a side path to the individual unconsciousness.

In chapter 4 on Picturebook Psychology, Kidd gives a detailed account of the evolution of Where the Wild Things Are.  Kidd praises the accolades of Sendak and often quotes other authors who acknowledge the excellence that is, Where the Wild Things Are, for instance:

“The picture books that become classics do so,” writes Ellen Spitz, “because they dare to tackle important and abiding psychological themes, and because they convey these themes with craftsmanship and subtlety” (1999, 8).  By this standard, the “classic”’ status of Where the Wild Things Are should come as no surprise; indeed, the book functions for Spitz (among others) as the exemplary picturebook a classic; classicism or canonicity is not a naturally occurring phenomenon but rather the result of particular values and practices.

Kidd then continues to express how children’s literature changed around the time that Where the Wild Things Are was published. More and more, the importance of Feelings, both in a residually Freudian sense and in the context of humanistic psychology became evident.  The Freudian context comes shining through when Sendak presents the complexities of feelings and society through a dream.  Kidd gives the ultimate compliment by saying that …”Where the Wild Things Are gets the dream-work just right.”

I found Kidd’s reading to be extremely informative and insightful when it comes to historicizing the evolution of children’s literature and psychoanalysis. He provided excellent and in depth examples of the history of children’s literature and psychoanalysis was given, however, his stance on agreeing, or disagreeing with those of which he mentioned was few and far between.  Or as he so eloquently put it, “Betwixt-n-Between.”  It was a very successful review of the literature on Kidd’s part.