Posts made by Maria Popova, founder and lead writer of the page Brain Pickings – a place to share articles about artistic, scientific and philosophical knowledge for literature lovers.
In addition to bringing joy to children, children’s books also have a serious cultural responsibility – capturing their minds and instilling in them the seed of belief about what can be accepted by society. what is right and wrong, and what is possible to accomplish. The weight of children’s books is therefore both a blessing and a burden, there are quite disappointing records that this genre has in honoring diversity – both in ethnicity and gender norms. .
Only 31 percent of children’s books have a female protagonist, and even those books have limited gender expectations; Of the 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, only 93 were black. Works that capture a full range of cultural diversity or reinforce the influence of female characters are few, not to mention books that can arouse scientific excitement for girls.
One of the most soothing remedies for this unfortunate situation dates back to 1973. Four years after the historic moon landing, when the whole world fell in love with space exploration, the education department of the Xerox Corporation has been published Blast Off – a pamphlet with wonderful imagination of two female writers, Linda C. Cain and Susan Rosenbaum, illustrated by the multiethnic duo Climb and Diane Dillon, is best known for illustrating the most popular edition of Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time.
It’s a story about a flight into space where the protagonist is not only a female but also a black man – and the character is not the one who is confused about his own path but is performing the interpretation himself. self.
“Ever since I could perceive this world, Regina Williams have always aspired to be an astronaut“, The story started to be so simple. One day, when Regina drawing a rocket map on the sidewalk next to her house, two of her friends came and asked about “something with a funny shape”.
She explained that it was a spaceship and shared her dream of flying on a real ship someday:
Concll zoom through the sky into space. Bargll find new worlds and maybe meet new people, and convenll come back and be famous!
I will sweep through the sky to enter space.
I will find new worlds and be able to meet so many new people;
And when I come back, I’ll be famous!
Her friends just laughed and left, which made it Regina more determined to pursue his dream. She started building her own spaceship from so many miscellaneous junk – some old boxes and trash cans became her space capsule – and Regina wondering if his dream of becoming an astronaut would come true …
The story goes on and, because it is a story for children, it has a beautiful ending – but the core of the work is a proposal that is both heartbreaking and visually pleasing: Marking exactly a decade only after we have First American woman in the universe Sally Ride, and nearly twenty years until Mae Jemison launched into space as the first African-American astronaut.
Although no longer published and somewhat outdated details, but works Blast Off persists as an antidote to the culture that often contains and restrains children’s dreams by selling them a narrower vision of their ability to fail to cultivate the necessary capabilities. so that kids can immerse themselves in infinite imagination.
Translation: Lệ Lin