Ten Quick Ways to Analyze Children’s Books for Sexism and Racism

“No author can be entirely objective. All authors write from a cultural as well as from a personal context…. “With any book in question, read carefully to determine whether the direction of the author’s perspective substantially weakens or strengthens the value of his/her written work”
— Council on Interracial Books for Children, 1974, p. 5

Prior to many of the stories we read in my class, we learn a little bit about the author who wrote the story. This background information can help us understand why they wrote the type of story, or reasons why they wrote the story in the way they did. This offers opportunities for my learners to apply connections from one person to their creation. It also allows for them to empathize and make connections from their own lives to the story and/or author. We had just recently read some of Edgar Allan Poe’s work. Prior to reading his work, my learners and I delved into his life to learn about who he was, and to give us insight as to why he would be writing what he did. It was incredibly insightful, and the learners made those connections straight away. One thing that stuck out to me, however, was when my learners empathized with Poe. Though some thought of him as a crazy person, others brought up his sad life, offering a view of understanding. This is what we need people to be doing as they read and hear information.

Rather than pass judgements, seek out understanding.

Council on the Interracial Books for Children. (1974). Ten quick ways to analyze children’s books for sexism and racism. [Brochure]. New York, NY.  Council on the Interracial Books for Children.