ERIC Number: EJ1046597
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Dec
Abstractor: As Provided
From Rags to "Rich as Rockefeller": Portrayals of Class Mobility in Newbery Titles
Forest, Danielle E.
Curriculum Inquiry, v44 n5 p591-619 Dec 2014
Several scholars have noted the prevalence of the discourse of upward class mobility in the United States, particularly within K-12 education settings. "Rags-to-riches" stories, an extreme form of upward mobility discourse, have been embedded in American culture for generations. However, the prevalence of upward mobility discourse in recently published books for children has not been widely studied. Children's literature merits scholarly attention because it has the potential to influence the perceptions and worldviews of young people, and books for youth reflect the values that adults in a society want to pass on to young people. This qualitative content analysis, grounded in assumptions of the sociology of school knowledge and critical literacy, investigates representations of upward class mobility in 22 titles given the Newbery Medal or Honor between 2009 and 2013. The findings indicate 7 out of 22 books include poor and working-class characters experiencing class ascendency. Characters became upwardly mobile by receiving a large sum of money unexpectedly, being adopted by a more affluent person, and gaining recognition from royalty or nobility. The presence of poor and working-class characters in these titles is positive: American children, who belong to a range of class groups, can find characters like themselves in literature. Yet the portrayals of upward mobility in Newbery titles may reinforce dominant ideologies that value economic success and blame the poor for their circumstances.
Descriptors: Social Class, Social Mobility, Childrens Literature, Books, Qualitative Research, Content Analysis, Sociology, Critical Literacy, Awards
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
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