16 November, 2006

Two kinds of American children

Unearthed some childen's books in the library that I hadn't read since I was very little, and since the gloominess of autumn and going back to college was stressing me, I had a little escapist binge.

First By the banks of plum creek, By the shores of Silver Lake and The long winter: three books from Laura Ingalls Wilder's accounts of growing up in pioneer America. Her family pack up their belongings in a wagon one day and drive West into unpopulated land where her father stakes a homesteading claim to some land and they settle. As a child, I was more impressed by the strictness of the parents - no playing on Sundays, no contradicting, children should be seen and not heard. The amazingness of actually just taking your entire life and driving off into unknown lands almost passed me by. Now I'm stunned at how brave they were. The politics are also interesting, especially the politics of community in The long winter. [66][67] [68]

Secondly, another series that has a rather less individualistic attitude towards community and society: Mildred D Taylor's books about growing up black in Depression-era Mississippi, Roll of thunder, hear my cry and Let the circle be unbroken, and the prequel to these The land. These are truly brilliant, terribly sad books about the awful difficulty of bringing up a child in an apartheid system both to have self-respect and to be safe from being attacked by white people around her for being 'uppity'. [69] [70] [71]


MarvMarsh said...

Ooh, I read Roll of Thunder for my Children's Lit course. Wrote an essay on it and everything. What are the others about?

woodscolt said...

Aha! You have a blog too.

Let the circle be unbroken carries on the story from the point where TJ gets caught breaking into the store with the two white boys - he gets tried and sentenced to death while they escape trial.

The Land is about how Cassie's grandfather acquires their farm in the first place, just after slavery is abolished. They're really good books. Your local library probably has them!