Language, Identity and Constructions in Childrens’ Literature Essay

Children’s literature is unique because of the manner in which the characters are presented, and the imagination that is involved. According to Lule (92), children are always ignorant of some of the economic realities or limitations that exist in the natural environment. For this reason, they find writing which expresses these natural realities very boring. They prefer literature that talks about heroes with supernormal powers.

Such stories make them feel they also have some inner potential that they can use to save the society or to do something heroic, just like the people they read about. They like stories that defy nature and the norms in the society as long as it has the focus of saving people of a given community. Another unique characteristic of these tales is that most of the animals or even plants always have the capacity to talk or act like human beings. This is very evident in the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar that was written by Eric Carle and published in 1969.

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Thesis Statement: In this study, the focus will be on the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar as one of the most popular children’s stories that has influenced them in various ways.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar has remained one of the most popular children’s books not only because of the manner in which simple arithmetic is presented in it, but also because of the nature of the main character. The book tries to explain the consequences of excessive eating, as shown by the hungry caterpillar. It also seeks to promote a positive attitude towards eating of fruits such as apples, pears, oranges, and strawberries. It combines science and fiction so well that children do not realize that the book also has some scientific knowledge.

The research by Townsend (56) reveals that the literatures that children read have massive differences from what adults read. First, the ideologies presented in them are unique. As shown in the tale of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, children like stories that give unique capabilities to various objects within their environment. This claim is supported by Walsh (90) who says that most of these stories do not give any emphasis on the issues of racial and gender differences.

The only important thing at this stage is for one to know that he or she is a boy or a girl. However, their main concern is to see a hero overcoming various challenges that come in life (Mickenberg and Vallone 36). The Very Hungry Caterpillar clearly demonstrates that caterpillar had an excessive character of overeating. This made it grow big, and after some time, it changed its normal shape.

However, what spared the caterpillar from the ultimate destruction was the fact that it ate fruit, which is good for one’s health. This helped it to transform into a beautiful butterfly. This influences children to eat more fruits, especially apples, pears, oranges and strawberries because they are beneficial to the body.

As stated above, one of the most common features of the children’s literature is the economic ignorance in their world. In children’s books, scarcity of economic resources does not apply in its real sense. Although food may be scarce in their stories, in the end it would come from heaven without much struggle. All the barriers to the economic resources that exist in the real world are also easy to break. Lule (98) notes that in children’s literature, some of the economic sense might need to be present in order to make it relevant to them.

This is very closely related to what happens in the real world scenario. A child may not be able to understand why its parents would tell it that there is no food in the house after passing by the market. The question the child would be asking is why the food was not taken from the market where there were plenty. What such a child does not understand is that such products are obtained by paying for them. In the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, we see the caterpillar eating various fruits without any restrictions.

Overall, the fantasies are what children prefer in their books and what makes a story interesting for them. Their patterns of consumption in relations to their literature are also as casual and unrealistic as their economic sense. Townsend (56) observes that although such stories would teach them the relevance of respecting property of others, they do not delve much into restrictive ownership that borders greed. In fact, most of them promote the art of sharing.

Violence and war are another very important aspect of children’s literature. According to Walsh (90), most children prefer reading stories which have some form of violence or war. This is so because at this stage of development, they tend to believe that war is the best way to make others subdue to pressure and give in to their demands. Children’s literature that contains violence becomes easily convincing to the minors because they consider this as an opportunity to see the results of war. As they grow, the adults would warn them against engaging in violence. This makes them curious of the real results of violent acts. They always get the solution from these stories.

According to Mickenberg and Vallone (117), another common characteristic of children’s literature is that most of them always have a simple plot, as seen in The Very Hungry Caterpillar. At the early stages of life, children would find it difficult to make abstract reasoning. When the plot is complicated, they may not understand such books.

It is important to ensure that the plot remains simple and straightforward. This is the only way through which they can be able to comprehend the information. It is also important to ensure that such tales are short enough for reading to be completed in one sitting. Townsend (56) says that children lack the capacity to read and understand long stories such as novels. They need tales which they can read from the introduction to the conclusion at a time. This would make it easy for them to comprehend the information and have some memories of the tale.

Children’s literature has a unique pattern, different from other forms of literatures. Most of their stories have unique references to various environmental issues. The tales are symbolic in nature, trying to discourage certain behavior or promote other characteristics. For example, the tales of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is about nature.

Caterpillar is one of the most common insects that children encounter in their lives. Most children hate caterpillars but like the beauty of the butterfly. The story tries to narrate to the children how the ugly caterpillars transform into beautiful butterflies after eating fruits. It is a hidden message that people can change for better if they do right things. This symbolic information is meant to persuade children to embrace morality in order to become heroes. On the other hand, the villains in these stories are always portrayed to have all the undesirable characteristics in the social environment. These patterns are very important in influencing positive behavior among children.

Works Cited

Lule, Jack. Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication. Irvington: Flat World Knowledge, 2013. Print.

Mickenberg, Julia, and Lynne Vallone. The Oxford Handbook of Children’s Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Print.

Townsend, John. Written for Children: An Outline of English Language Children’s Literature. Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2006. Print.

Walsh, Sue. Kipling’s Children’s Literature: Language, Identity, and Constructions of Childhood. Burlington: Ashgate, 2010. Print.

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