Sunday, April 11, 2010

westernization of mulan

I believe that Disney overly westernized the character Mulan in order to create an entertaining movie in the US. The characters in Mulan and the stereotyping of the Mongols and the weak peasant soldiers was clearly a western interpretation. It is much easier to relate to a rebellious young woman who goes against her culture, but in the end is still accepted and allowed to continue her role in society. The entire chinese culture was westernized and depicted from a western's point of view so that this disney film would attract young american children's interests.
It is definitely more difficult for an average young middle school reader to find similarities with a main character like Ailin than with Mulan. Ailin faces a much stricter society that most young adolescent readers cannot yet comprehend. This novel could greatly benefit young readers if teachers taught students with an emphasis on understanding a culture before understanding that culture's literature. When reading multicultural literature students will better understand the themes and main point if they understand that all cultures are unique and have many differences. Chinese foot binding in one such difference. This practice is some odd mythical practice to most young middle school readers. In order to understand the significance of Ailin's struggle throughout the novel the students need to know what Chinese foot binding meant to the Chinese culture.
The disney movie, Mulan, does not possess as many benefits as reading !!!!!!!!!! because it does not truly represent Chinese culture. Mulan's main purpose is to entertain and sell movies at the same time teaching simple moral lessons and values to young adolescents. The movie does not capture the significance of rebelling in Chinese culture and how drastic those actions can have and the after effects that they can lead to. It is difficult to criticize the historical context of disney movies as they are cartoon animated and intended for young viewers who would not pick up on certain cultural differences that really do exist. If these cultural differences were recognized in both the film industry and taught in schools adolescents would understand more about foreign cultures and foreign literature.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Black and White: Real Life Experiences

The novel, Black and White, deals with many controversial issues such as racial discrimination, stereotyping, and interracial relations. In my personal opinion the novel both pays tribute to these issues and also exploits them. The novel shows how the society and community around Marcus reacted upon finding out about his crime and about the different ways in which Eddie and Marcus dealt with the situation. The novel showed how communities quickly assume the truth based upon stereotypes and don't like to think otherwise because of the possibilities and consequences that could be revealed.
After the crime and Eddie being displaced from the guilt the consequences of their actions reveal everything about the characters of Eddie and Marcus. Marcus a much more truthful individual is stuck with the blunt of all the punishment. These consequences force Marcus to realize everything that he had going for him in life and how this one wrong decision is going to affect his life. Eddie on the other hand continues to take his life for granted because his eyes were not opened to the seriousness of the crime he helped commit.
The communities reaction after the crime and Marcus' conviction showed how he was stereotyped as a black male with a poor upbringing that led to his criminal lifestyle. This is terrible because Marcus was such a great person. I believe that the fact that Marcus was black and stereotyped by society led to the fact that Eddie did not confess to having committed the crime with Marcus. Eddie was a weak friend. He should have stood up for Marcus who had already a much more difficult life and it could have really showed that not all of society is one big stereotype and that Marcus, and the black race in general, should not be stereotyped and associated with criminal activity. The novel payed tribute to interracial relations by showing the way Eddie's family had been a family for Marcus and how Eddie and Marcus were such great friends. After the crime it showed the way many people who are normally very accepting can still hold certain prejudices and discriminate against those they love. The novel revealed the power of stereotypes and the fact that they are still around today even though many of us would like to think otherwise.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Celebrities and Literature

The article written by Linda Park brings up a very strong point against the success of celebrity authors. I completely agree that just because someone is a celebrity does no mean that their book should be published and force fed to children. One of the most famous cliches says that you should never judge a book by its cover so then I too believe a book should not be judged by its author. Each book is an individual work of art and should be analyzed and looked at by what that individual book brings to the proverbial table of children's literature.
As Park says it is exceedingly hard to write for children and write well by not underestimating the audience. Children should be tested and urged to expand their literature skills with more challenging and fulfilling literature. I don't believe that there is any value in children reading a book solely because it has been written by some celebrity that they or their parents happen to know the name of.
I do believe, however, that this is not just the fault of the publisher. Personally I would lay most of the blame upon the children's parents who have gone out and chosen to by this celebrity literature. The publishers are simply out to make money and no less can be expected in a consumer economy like ours. When parents go to buy literature for their children they should look at book reviews and see what the critics and educated readers have to say about certain books. From the reviews parents would more knowledge on the type of books that their children should be reading.
This is also the case with teachers and schools. Education should be built around challenging the students to excel and read books that offer the most benefit not the most entertainment. The more skilled and knowledgeable students become with literature the more entertainment they will have reading challenging and deep literature. It is crucial to the development of young readers that children do not waste time reading poorly written books. I believe that only in the school system would it be effective to get rid of celebrity novels by requiring the reading of well written novels by exceedingly talented authors. In this way it is possible that celebrity novels will lose their value and slowly fade from the shelves they currently dominate.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Adolescents and Multicultural Literature

We have discussed the importance of multicultural literature in many class periods already, and this was my focus point in the books that I reviewed. Multicultural literature is at its best when the novels not only reveal what life is like in different cultures, but also when the books are well written, contain historical elements, and also cultural symbols. All of these characteristics work together to educate students about not only different societies and cultures, but about the writing styles of multicultural authors.
The author of Esperanza Rising used a technique where she added spanish words with their interpretations in English. This is a characteristic found in many books written by spanish authors. I believe that it captures the essence of how hispanic immigrants hold onto their roots, but envelope themselves in the American culture at the same time. Through words the author is able to represent the characters struggle between two very different worlds and how they work to bring those worlds together.
Adolescents can greatly benefit from reading multicultural literature not only from the knowledge that they gain of other cultures, but also the appreciation and respect that they are able to attain for completely different lifestyles. The book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe has the potential to open adolescents eyes to how hard life was for the Africans when Christianity was forced upon their culture. Most Americans would believe that bringing Christianity to the Africans was a great accomplishment as well as bringing civilization to them. Multicultural literature, however, teaches us that we should not look at the events in the novel from our perspective, but instead we must analyze them through the eyes of the African characters. In doing so the reader will understand the main points that the author is attempting to get across and the reader will understand how the natives believe such events affected their culture.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Importance of Multicultural Literature

The article that Yu Ren Dong wrote explained the importance of multicultural literature in the world that we live in today. In United States especially there is a wide blend of cultures that are in constant contact with one another. This article shows that it is important to respect and understand the differences among cultures, and that teachers can instill these values in their adolescents through literature. If students learn to understand the cultural differences of a character in a book then they can start to understand cultural differences that are found in everyday life. When people begin to understand cultural differences they learn to respect others people as unique individuals.
Both of the novels Copper Sun and Esperanza Rising that we read in class would work well as beginner novels for adolescents. These novels could easily be included in the English curriculums of middle schools in order to create and generate multicultural awareness. Neither of the novels is difficult to read or so boring that it could not capture the attention of middle schoolers. At the same time both depict important cultural values, traditions, and history that would help educate students on African American and hispanic cultures.
It is vitally important for the teachers of multicultural literature to know how to teach this type of literature in order to help students get rid of cultural biases. The teacher must be able to effectively generate discussion groups where the students question the differences in cultures and see how a character from a different culture is affected differently than they would be. As Dong's article insinuates it is essential for the students to learn to get past their own cultural experiences and analyze the characters based on the characters' cultures. In doing so and attempting to look at the novel and its circumstances through the characters' eyes and cultures the students are making their first step towards multicultural awareness.
Being aware and respecting other cultures is very important in the diverse would that we live in today. Racism is all to apparent in many parts of our society, and it could be possible to decrease racial tension through better education on multicultural values.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"But, Is It Good Enough to Teach?"

After reading the chapter written by Foster I have mixed feelings about the books that we have read so far in class. I believe that all three of them were a good choice to read and discuss in our class about adolescent literature, but I don't think that they should all be taught to adolescents. Harry Potter and Twilight are two of the most popular books on the shelf right now, and so it is important to discuss them in class because of their appeal to adolescents. On the other hand Copper Sun could greatly benefit young readers if it was taught in schools.
I would not like it if Harry Potter and Twilight were taught in schools because I think that it would ruin those books for the young readers. I believe that these books are already serving their great purpose by inspiring many kids to read, and even motivating them about reading long time consuming books. These books are meant to entertain and inspire children's imagination. It would greatly take away from the plot, the characters, and the magic that these books give children if they were taught in schools. Without analyzing these books in school kids will still be able to pick up on the themes of hope, never giving up, the power of love, and the great importance of friendship. I can only hope that these two influential books will continue to keep young kids reading and inspired.
Copper Sun is different than the other two books in many ways. First of all Copper Sun is not even half as popular as either of the other books, and most young readers if not all have probably never heard of this book. This book should be taught in school because it has great educational value. This book tells of the terrible events of slavery, and the point of view that the book is told in helps to open the eyes of the reader forcing him or her to sympathize with the characters. This book has the potential to educate adolescents on slave tales, the many atrocities that occurred, and contains essential themes associated with african american literature.
All three of these books that we have ready were important to discuss in a class about adolescent literature. They all are novels that have the potential to benefit young adolescent readers. Personally I see Copper Sun as a more educational novel, but I do believe that the other two are vitally important due to their power to inspire children's imagination and get them excited about reading.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Personal Reaction to Copper Sun

Copper Sun was the kind of book the grabbed my attention in the very first couple of chapters. Amari faced many struggles in the very beginning of the book. Through the use of vivid imagery the author was able to clearly depict the atrocities that took place to the African tribes. As a reader I was able to sympathize with Amari and feel her pain as unthinkable events continued to befall her and her fellow Africans.
I had never before read a slave tale before, and I think that this book is great for teens. As we discussed in class the historical fiction was accurate especially when referring to how the whites treated their slaves. The horrific images of slavery and torture were astonishing and even opened my eyes as I read the novel. I do not believe that at any point the novel gets too graphic for teens, but I am sure that anyone who reads this will be at least a little surprised about how terrible the slave trade and slave life on a plantation really were. This is a great multicultural novel for adolescents because it not only reveals the atrocities of slavery, but it also presents a theme of hope that is a common theme in slave tales.
I consider myself a well educated individual, but after reading this novel I feel that I have learned significantly more about what life was like for each individual person. Putting slavery into the perspective of a protagonist helps the reader to sympathize with that character and gain a better understanding of that character's experiences. This novel could help many adolescents see the seriousness of what slavery was, and why it is not something to be taken lightly.
Our class discussions on the historical context of the book made me think more of the book and its Sharon Draper. At times that events that befall Amari and her people seem so extreme that they could be exaggerated, but after finding that all of this happened it adds merit to the novel. I had never before heard that slave babies were used as gator bait. I found this particular tragedy very terrifying and atrocious. This part of the novel completely epitomized the helplessness of the slaves and their terrible situation. It is events like this that many people, especially teenagers, don't know about and could benefit greatly by reading the book Copper Sun, but also by discussing its historical and multicultural significance.