I just started my 3rd semester of college a week ago. I plan to incorporate things school relate into this blog. Things like essays, events, or topics that come up in class. I am taking a Children's literature class and our first assignment was to answer the question "Are moral lessons provided in childrens literature meant to teach life lessons or individual resposibility. Here's my essay:
The 20th century introduced us to a wide range of Children’s literature. This literature includes a wide range of stories, themes, and lessons. There is always a message being conveyed through these stories and lessons to be learned, that pertain to the everyday life of children. Moral lessons depicted in children’s literature are to teach us about individual responsibility as well as general life lessons. At times stories may tie in both means of teaching in one. For example stories about firsts or new adventures express the individuality of the main character and can teach valuable life lesson along the way.
Most children’s books share lessons that teach individual responsibility. This theme is most commonly found in “coming of age” stories. A coming-of-age story is a story in which the main character experiences new adventures, challenges, and/or obstacles in his/her growth human being. An example of a coming of age children’s book is Junie B. Jones and the stupid smelly bus written by Barbara Park. Junie B. Jones and the stupid smelly bus is a funny story about a young girl just starting kindergarten and the experiences that come along with. One of her most prominent experiences is riding the school bus to and from school. The first time Junie B. rode the bus wasn’t enjoyable, therefore, throughout, the whole story she spent her time trying to avoid taking the school bus. Eventually Junie B. learned how ridiculous she was being and that she was going to have to deal with taking the bus, she had also made a new friend to take the bus with. Individual responsibility is a very important lesson to be learned especially at a young age, in order to be respectful productive citizens of society. The life lesson taught is that change is inevitable but growth is intentional. Junie B. had to experience change and learn to grow on her own.
General life lessons are almost always taught in children’s books, whether directly or indirectly. In these books there are stories to be told and experiences to be shared, as the main character learns the reader learns. In few cases the lesson or moral of the story is plainly stated but in others it can be interpreted. The significance of life lessons in children’s stories is that they can be learned from anything. For example there are multiple life lessons to be the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz written by L. Frank Baum. Nearly every is familiar with the wizard of Oz but many may fail to realize the lessons to be learned from this story. The most important/obvious lesson is that there is no place like home. Dorothy originally wanted to leave home but once landed in Oz all she wanted to do was go back home to her family. Being away from home taught Dorothy responsibility and not to grow up too fast. This teaches children that running away is never the answer and that in the end everything will be alright.
Children’s books express both individual responsibility and general life lessons. A prime example of this is the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling. In the first novel of the series, Harry Potter and the sorcerer’s stone, orphan Harry who is raised yet poorly treated by his aunt uncle discovers that he is a wizard. Harry’s parents were killed and Harry survived. Throughout the series Harry attends Hogwarts School of wizardry and, with the help of friends, goes on several epic journeys to discover his own history and defeat the dark wizard who had killed his parents. Individual responsibility is great deal for Harry. Harry has a lot of weight on his shoulders after a while; many are depending on him to defeat the dark lord. But, the life lesson taught in the series is stay true to friends. Harry has a lot of allies helping him throughout the series and at times he may have been under the impression that they were all solely protecting his life. His friends were helping him to protect all wizards and Hogwarts.
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