Should We Burn Babar?: Essays on Children's Literature and the Power of Stories

Overview

In “provocative and entertaining essays [that] will appeal to reflective readers, parents, and educators” (Library Journal), one of the country’s foremost education writers looks at the stories we tell our children. Available now in a revised edition, including a new essay on the importance of “stoop-sitting” and storytelling, Should We Burn Babar? challenges some of the chestnuts of children’s literature. Highlighting instances of racism, sexism, and condescension that detract from the tales being told, Kohl ...

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Overview

In “provocative and entertaining essays [that] will appeal to reflective readers, parents, and educators” (Library Journal), one of the country’s foremost education writers looks at the stories we tell our children. Available now in a revised edition, including a new essay on the importance of “stoop-sitting” and storytelling, Should We Burn Babar? challenges some of the chestnuts of children’s literature. Highlighting instances of racism, sexism, and condescension that detract from the tales being told, Kohl provides strategies for detecting bias in stories written for young people and suggests ways to teach kids to think critically about what they read.

Beginning with the title essay on Babar the elephant—“just one of a fine series of inquiries into the power children’s books have to shape cultural attitudes,” according to Elliott Bay Booknotes—the book includes essays on Pinocchio, the history of progressive education, and a call for the writing of more radical children’s literature. As the Hungry Mind Review concluded, “Kohl’s prescriptions for renewing our schools through the use of stories and storytelling are impassioned, well-reasoned, and readable.”

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Kohl advocates that we teach children how to question the underlying cultural assumptions of what they read. (Aug.)
Booknews
Kohl, a progressive educator and author of 36 Children, looks at children's literature and the power of stories in education, and considers ways of dealing with widely-loved children's material whose messages need to be challenged. He looks at colonialism in the Babar books, racism inherent in the usual telling of the story of Rosa Parks, sexism in Pinocchio, and censorship from the religious right. For educators and general readers. No index. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565842595
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 8/28/1996
  • Series: Babar Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.53 (w) x 8.28 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author


Herbert Kohl is a celebrated writer, teacher, and advocate. He is the author of more than forty books, including “I Won’t Learn from You”: And Other Thoughts on Creative Maladjustment, Should We Burn Babar?: Essays on Children’s Literature and the Power of Stories, The Discipline of Hope: Learning from a Lifetime of Teaching, Stupidity and Tears: Teaching and Learning in Troubled Times, She Would Not Be Moved: How We Tell the Story of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and The Herb Kohl Reader: Awakening the Heart of Teaching (all published by The New Press), as well as the bestselling classic 36 Children. He is a co-author, with Judith Kohl, of The View from the Oak: The Private Worlds of Other Creatures and a co-editor, with Tom Oppenheim, of The Muses Go to School: Inspiring Stories About the Importance of Arts in Education, both published by The New Press. A recipient of a National Book Award and a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, he was the founder and first director of the Teachers and Writers Collaborative in New York City, has served as a senior fellow at the Open Society Institute, and established the PEN West Center. In 2010, Kohl was named a Guggenheim Fellow in education. He lives in Point Arena, California.
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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction 1
Should We Burn Babar? Questioning Power in Children's Literature 3
The Story of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott Revisited 30
A Plea for Radical Children's Literature 57
Wicked Boys and Good Schools: Three Takes on Pinocchio 94
The Good Old Days. I Was There. Where Was They? A Fictional History of Public Education in the United States 125
Bibliography 173
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