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ERIC Number: ED410580
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1994-Jul-21
Pages: 9
Abstractor: N/A
"Little Black Sambo" and the Legacy of Image in African American Literature for Children.
Goncalves, Wande Knox
In "The Story of Little Black Sambo," initially written for her own children and published in 1898, Helen Bannerman describes the adventures of a young dark-skinned child and four tigers. Because it was smaller and more manageable than most children's books of the time--text and illustrations were positioned on the same page for high child interest--it was quite revolutionary. These early Bannerman stories were meant for European and White American children, and for many of them the stories comfortably continued racist notions and stereotypes. Although Bannerman's Black Sambo was supposed to represent an Indian child, the American Sambo which appeared in subsequent books was clearly African. Some Black adults recall being in white settings and feeling embarrassed and demeaned by the association with "Sambo." In the 1940s and 1950s, Sambo stories appeared on many public school and library approved lists, but, by 1980, the Little Black Sambo series had been relegated to the historical bookshelves. As early as 1949, however, Black parents had appealed to public education boards to discontinue the use of a book which they felt was discriminatory and racist. For a while after Sambo's disappearance, there was no presence of African Americans at all in children's literature. In the past 25 years, however, a body of literature with images that celebrates and elevates African children, family and culture has been created by authors-illustrators such as Eloise Greenfeld, Julius Lester, John Steptoe, Virginia Hamilton, and Leo and Diane Dillon. The role of the classroom teacher includes being an advocate for the development of positive self images for all children through a heightened sense of responsibility in the selection of children's literature. (Contains 6 references.) (CR)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A