Sunday, July 4, 2010

Stereotypes and making meaning in Caribbean children's books

I had a thought. I started out in my blog by considering stereotypes and the quaint in Caribbean Children's Literature. My present thought is about 'making meaning'. I love that expression.

When running children's writing workshops we usually say: a story has to have conflict to be interesting; 1)conflict between the protagonist and the villain, the universal theme of good versus evil; 2) conflict between the protagonist and nature - surviving a hurricane; 3) conflict with self - the protagonist has a bad habit like lying which he/she has to overcome.

However, it occurs to me that making meaning is equally (also?) important. You see, making meaning (which I refer to in a previous post which I was unable to post, but will soon, and now that post begins to make meaning for me) is integral to our understanding of ourselves. You explain something to me and I understand; I work though something, my own story (with reference to the protagonist) I make meaning. Making meaning makes sense of what has taken place, allows me internalise some aspect important to me.

This is beginning to sound very philosophical, and totally irrelevant to a good story (both for adults and children). However if the reader comes away from the story with greater understanding/insight of something, of self and others, is this not also equally important especially when it comes to culture and identity, which is of great significance in states barely a generation out of colonialism. This does not propose that stories should be didactic/preach like morality tales. They would still have to be interesting stories, stories which engage the emotions.

Just thinking about it; just thinking. And I'm going to look at it from time to time in relation to various stories. I can think of examples right now, but I need to make meaning of my thoughts!

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