NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1036187
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Sep
Pages: 18
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 55
ISSN: ISSN-0045-6713
The Columbus Myth: Power and Ideology in Picturebooks about Christopher Columbus
Desai, Christina M.
Children's Literature in Education, v45 n3 p179-196 Sep 2013
In 1992, the 500th anniversary of Columbus's landing in the Bahamas was simultaneously celebrated and denounced in the US. Damaging facts about Columbus and the impact of his voyages were aired along with demands for truth and change. This study analyzes the power relationships and political ideology of picturebooks about Columbus published in the US in the 20 years since that anniversary to determine what messages and attitudes young readers are likely to absorb from them and whether the picturebook image of Columbus has evolved. It draws on the ideas of progressive educator Herbert Kohl, who demonstrates how the analysis of power relationships in stories reveals their political stance ("Should We Burn Babar?," 1995), and on the tradition of progressive librarianship, which seeks to promote intellectual freedom and positive images in children's literature of all peoples. The study finds extensive use of certain narrative techniques, including patterns of assumptions, avoidance, event selection, and omission. Patterns in illustration and sentence structure (use of passive voice, etc.) as well as stereotyping and Eurocentrism also abound. Finally, mild historical revisionism is introduced in more "balanced" titles, though the definition of balance is problematic. This article finds that the Columbus myth persists with little change, and that few titles present child readers with alternative perspectives.
Springer. 233 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013. Tel: 800-777-4643; Tel: 212-460-1500; Fax: 212-348-4505; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A