Once Upon Today: Teaching for Social Justice with Postmodern Picturebooks

Once Upon Today: Teaching for Social Justice with Postmodern Picturebooks

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In her article “Once Upon Today: Teaching for Social Justice with Postmodern Picturebooks,” Kathleen O’Neil argues that children, both in and out of classroom settings, would benefit from postmodern picture books because this genre of books not only disrupts the cultural concepts and roles that picture books traditionally evoke, but allows children readers to challenge their understanding of certain social norms and expectations conventionally used in picture books. O’Neal asserts that students who are subjected to postmodern picture books are being asked to think critically about the “status-quo” and this could result in the students reaching a greater awareness of the world around them and the roles that could potentially play in it.
Immediately prior to stating her argument, Kathleen O’Neil discusses the use of postmodern picture books by teachers in order to prompt students into questioning and debating issues within their own personal lives. She then transitions into stating her argument in the third paragraph of her article in the last sentence. She says, “This article examines the use of postmodern picture books in classroom settings to spark discussions that lead to greater awareness on the part of the students of the world around them and the possibilities of their roles in it” (41). Immediately after stating her argument O’Neil initiates a separate section of her article titled “We Turn to Storytellers,” where she discusses the advancement of the current world and how postmodern picture books are responding to these changes.
The opening of Kathleen O’Neil’s article is a discussion of children’s picture books being used throughout history as tools to teach children cultural expectations. O’Neil mentions that children’...


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...multiple hypothetically possible situations amongst classroom students reading postmodern picture books. The sources for her argument, the picture books, are: Black and White, Voices in the Park, Bad Day at Riverbend, The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, The Paper Bag Princess, The Giant and the Beanstalk, and The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish. O’Neil also offers evidence of picture books that may initially seem like they are postmodern, but they are not. Those books are The Three Javelinas and The Three Little Fish and the Big, Bad Shark. As O’Neil breaks down the postmodern picture books through the three social justices she chooses to focus on (alternate points of view, stereotype, and agency) she addresses these multiple postmodern picture books in order to illustrate possible classroom activities and discussions for teachers and students.



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