Monday, January 23, 2012

Questions About Power in Stories and Storytelling

We're moving to the issue of power in my Jan Term class at Saint Mary's College of California, "Race, Culture, and Power in Children's Books." I thought my Fire Escape folk might be interested in a couple of lists I'm sharing with my students.

Questions to Ask about Power in a Story:
  1. Who/what has the power to BE changed?
  2. Who/what has the power to MAKE change?
  3. Who/what has the power to PREVENT change?
  4. Who/what GAINS power and how?
  5. Who/what LOSES power and how?
  6. What KIND of power does each player have? Where did they get it? Do they use it? Why or why not?
  7. How is the child reader/listener empowered or disempowered by the story?
If I Want to Tell the Story of a "Less Powerful" Child ...
  1. Why am I writing this story?
  2. Could anyone else tell it better? Does that person have a voice I can seek to nurture or empower?
  3. Have I held enough babies in that community?
  4. Have I done my research?
  5. Am I allowing that child/teen character to be whole and real?
  6. What kind of power am I giving my fictional child/teen? Is it true to his/her context? Is it culturally appropriate or “western”?
  7. Is there an outside “savior?” If so, who is it and why? How much power am I giving that “savior” over the child/teen? 
  8. Am I reinforcing a “single story” about that child/teen? (Watch Chimamanda Adichie's brilliant TED Talk if you don't get this one.)
Anything to add?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hey, We Need More Latino Books ... and More

Popping back on the Fire Escape to share a table we compiled in my month-long course on "Race, Culture, and Power in Children's Books" at Saint Mary's College of California. We'd love to hear your responses to and thoughts about this data. (Thanks, US Census and CCBC!)