Realism Two categories Contemporary Realism (& Historical Fiction) Realism (Realistic fiction) • Realistic fiction attempts to portray the world as it is. – Most often, “ordinary” people do ordinary things. • Every memorable work of fiction presents a conflict or problem that affects human beings, and how this obstacle is overcome is the story. – In realistic fiction, writers draw on their own backgrounds and observations of life around them. • When writers present a world that is happier than the one we live in, we call that “romance.” • Over the past 150 years. Children’s literature has gradually moved from a romantic view of the world toward a more realistic one. Coming-of-Age Theme • From self-absorbed and immature to maturity and understanding of one’s place in the world. (And the child’s place is usually at home) • In children’s books, the protagonist usually reaches a higher level of maturity and a great sense of selfawareness by the end of the book, but has not yet achieved adulthood. • Bildungsroman is a German term for a book that describes the trials and experiences of a young person coming into maturity. Adolescent literature is sometime bildungsroman. Humor • In fantasies, humor tends to be humor of the absurd. • In realism, humor often breaks the tension of difficult situations. • Humor can be therapeutic, helping readers to deal with the most serious issues. • Most common kinds of humor in realism – Humor of character. Interesting people do odd things. When Kirsti repeats “Kings and Queens” to herself over and over again. – Humor of situation. Strange or awkward things happen. When the kitten falls into the pail of milk during he “milking lesson.” – Humor of language. Word plays, verbal ironies, misused words (malapropisms). When Kirsti calls the little kitten “Thor.” Contemporary Realism • Most popular genre • About “my life” “my world” • Readers can know characters quickly and it’s often easy to identify with them. • The ground rules are already established. No need to create a new world with new rules (rather, closely observe the world of today). “My Life” “My World” Contemporary realism • reflects and confirms my understanding of the world. (familiar) – Readers can see themselves in characters – But many kinds of people are seldom represented. • For example: There are very few books with deaf characters. • Most contemporary realism for children still shows the lives of white, middle class characters in the countries where they published. • expands my understanding of my world (difference) – Readers gain some understanding of people who are not like them or in conditions which are different. Realism and Society • The view of life in a realistic story reflects the societal values and attitudes of the time in which the story is set. • Until the 1960s the world in children's books typically was presented without complexity, negativity or earthly aspects. • Some general restrictions – – – – – – No budding love affairs – No people of color No liquor – No poverty No supernatural phenomena – No abuse No undermining of authority No parents with serious human weaknesses No realistic working-class speech (not even the mildest cursing) • The Vietnam War helped to change this Harriet the Spy 1964 by Louise Fitzhugh A Non-traditional girl • Dressed in a sweatshirt • Spied on neighbors • Neglected by her wealthy parents • Underwent psychotherapy • Visited her nanny’s impoverished, mentally challenged mother • Said “hell” to her mother. The Chocolate War 1974 by Robert Cormier • Bleak world view • “overly” realistic • Presents a corrupt authority • Bullies get away with it. • The good guy doesn’t win. Bibliotherapy Any kind of emotional healing that comes from reading books 1. The broad, therapeutic feelings of recreations and gratification experienced by individual readers 2. The sense of connectedness readers in a group feel when they share the same reading experiences 3. The particular information and insight books can provide in dealing with personal problem • This has led to much didactic literature especially for young adults. “The problem novel” Categories There are many ways to categorize this genre (Judith Hillman) • • • • • • • Family and School stories Adventure and Survival stories Social Realism Animal realism Sports stories Mystery and Detective stories Series books Categories Another classification system (Charlotte Huck) • Becoming one’s own person a. living in a family, b. living with others, c. growing towards maturity • Coping with problems of the human condition a. Physical disabilities, b. developmental and learning disabilities, c. mental illness, d. aging and death • Living in a diverse world a. African American experiences, b. books from other cultures, c. understanding various world cultures. • Popular a. animal stories, b. sports stories, c. school stories, d. mysteries.