Children’s Literature in Jamaica

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Children’s Literature in Jamaica

As children in the United States, we grow up listening to the stories of Dr. Seuss and Curious George as we fall off to sleep to the sound of our parent’s voices echoing in our dreams. As we start to grow older and the poetry of Shel Silverstein’s, "Where the Sidewalk Ends" no longer holds our imagination as much as it did at eight years old, we begin to read stories that are a reflection of the environment we live within. We engaged ourselves in the lives of such characters as the Hardy Boys and Willy Wonka.

What these stories lacked however, are the social issues that are ever present in today’s society. Not all of American children’s literature is without social content, but the literature many of us grew up with was about adventure and mystery. On the other hand, Caribbean children’s literature tends to base its work on survival. The stories of Jamaican folklore for example, tell the tales of the original inhabitants of the Caribbean Island and how they survived colonialism, slavery, poverty, and racism. From generation to generation these stories have been passed down in their original form through oral history.

Oral tradition is a method that I believe is no longer preserved in American culture.

Rarely do you read of an individual who was sat down on his grandparent’s knee to hear the childhood stories he or her was told by their grandparents before them. In today’s society, all a child has to do to be entertained is turn on the television, or log on to the internet to hear and read the rhetoric of today’s entertainment industry. Whether it is a lack of communication between parent and child, or a loss of innocence, the tradition of a parent telling the story of his or her ancest...

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...ren are forced to deal with throughout life.

Bibliography

Berry, James, Everywhere Faces Everywhere, Simon and Schuster Publishing, New York, 1996

Bolden, Tonya, Rites of Passage: Stories About Growing Up by Black Writers from Around the World, Hyperion Books for Children, New York, 1994

Dance, Daryl, Folklore from Contemporary Jamaicans, University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, 1985

Dawes, Kwame, Wheel and Come Again: An Anthology of Reggae Poetry, Goose Lane Publishing, Canada, 1998

Jekyll, Walter, Jamaican Song and Story, Dover Publications, New York, 1966

Jennings, Linda, A Treasury of Stories from Around the World, Kingfisher Publishing, New York, 1993

Ribelli, Piero, Jah Pickney: Children of Jamaica, Ian Randle Publishers, Kingston, Jamaica, 1995

Sherlock, Philip, West Indian Folk-tales, Oxford University Press, Oxford, England, 1966

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