ERIC Number: ED284167
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1984
Reference Count: N/A
The Brownies' Book: Challenge to the Selective Tradition in Children's Literature.
Harris, Violet J.
"The Brownies' Book," a periodical for Black children created and edited by W. E. B. Du Bois and published for 2 years, from 1920 to 1921, was a radical departure from traditional children's publications. It challenged the "selective tradition" in children's literature that negatively depicted Afro-Americans and Afro-American culture. It offered poems, stories, informative articles, and advice that portrayed Black children as intelligent, attractive, clean, and virtuous. Readers were apprised of the history and achievements of Blacks in articles about Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Tubman, and Black children around the country were recognized for academic achievement. Additionally, to counteract the effect of drawings in other children's literature that showed Blacks with unattractive and exaggerated features, the drawings for "The Brownies' Book" showed Blacks as being attractive and having a wide range of physical characteristics and skin tones. Readers were taught to treat others with fairness, equality, and assertiveness, and poems and stories often emphasized kindness and perseverance. In a monthly column called "The Judge," young readers were given guidance that would enable them to interact with others with self-confidence and tolerance. The magazine was overtly political, stressing racial solidarity and racial equality, and it seems to have inspired many Blacks to challenge the status quo. Letters from readers reflect the uplifting and inspirational quality of the magazine, indicating that it fulfilled DuBois' hopes that "The Brownie Book" would create "refined colored youngsters." (JC)
Descriptors: Attitude Change, Black Culture, Black History, Black Literature, Black Stereotypes, Black Studies, Black Youth, Characterization, Children, Childrens Literature, Cultural Images, Literature Appreciation, Periodicals, Racial Bias, Reading Attitudes, Reading Interests, Reading Research, Recreational Reading, Self Esteem
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A