An exceptional perspective : the rhetoric of retarded children in Newbery award-winning fiction

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Olena Swain Bunn (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Lois V. Edinger

Abstract: A rhetoric of children's fiction follows a writer's means of influencing his reader. The popular phenomenon of the 1960's and '70's known as the new realism provides the writer and critic of children1s books with opportunities to observe an exceptional perspective in fiction. Drawing from social problems that have been traditionally avoided as subjects in children's books, the new realism sets out to satisfy factual, social, or commercial concerns: frequently it is didactic: sometimes it shows an ugly side of life. By definition the treatment of mental retardation in 42 children's stories published since 1960 is both new and real. Because many living children with mental deficiencies are placed by law in classrooms instead of institutions, they have become highly visible: it is now a fact of contemporary life that the problem of mental retardation has been made evident to children all over America. A writer, therefore, who delineates a retardate can no longer presuppose his character to be a clown who gives readers something to laugh at and thus protects them from the need to think.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1978
People with mental disabilities in literature
Children with mental disabilities
Children in literature
Newbery Medal

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