Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: Challenging the Mythology of Home in Children's Literature

Melissa B. Wilson, Kathy G. Short

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

The myth of home is what distinguishes children's literature from adult novels (Wolf 1990). Nodelman and Reimer (The Pleasures of Children's Literature, 2003) write that while "the home/away/home pattern is the most common story line in children's literature, adult fiction that deals with young people who leave home usually ends with the child choosing to stay away" (pp. 197-198). In a critical content analysis of recent award-winning middle reader novels from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, a new pattern was observed. This pattern, called a postmodern metaplot, begins with the child being abandoned, rather than the child leaving the home. The child's journey is to construct a home within a postmodern milieu complete with competing truths and failed adults. Ultimately, the child's postmodern journey ends with very modern ideal of the child leading the adults to a hopeful ending, a home. The article explores the changing roles of childhood and adulthood in children's literature and questions if the mythology of home can be undone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-144
Number of pages16
JournalChildren's Literature in Education
Volume43
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012

Keywords

  • Award winning middle readers
  • Constructions of childhood
  • Critical content analysis
  • Home in children's literature
  • Plot structures
  • Postmodern childhood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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