Changing views of the Civil War as seen in children's books.

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
The current children's Civil War books are not exactly the same as the children's Civil War books I read when I was a child. As a child we even had Civil War comic books. It is easy to notice that current children's Civil War books are more diverse both racially and in gender, but is this a sign that children or parents want books that are more diverse, or something the authors are trying to push? Do children's authors have an agenda?

I guess the first thing to do would be to look at Civil War books aimed at children in the 1950s - 1960s. What was the intent or agenda during those years? Once we establish a starting point, we could then possibly look for changes over the next 40 to 60 years. Things I think we can look for is changing views of gender and the changing views of diversity. The views of slavery may have changed as well. Also in the 50s and 60s soldiers were heroes and war was seen as a great adventure, I am not sure that current children's books still push this view.

This subject is important because not only would current Civil War children's books display changing attitudes but it could impact the formation of of the views these children have about the Civil War.
 

lupaglupa

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Location
Upstate New York
I think authors of books aimed towards children, like other authors, have two agendas. First, they want to sell books. Second, they want to win awards that help them sell books. Not to make light of the deep desire people have to tell stories and reach their audience etc etc. But. If you write a book no one wants to read, you can't get it published. Or you publish it and it doesn't sell. So if you are seeing these books, it is because there are readers out there who wanted them and the writers responded to that.

If you are seeing books about the Civil War that feature characters who are more diverse in race and gender, I'm guessing that's because readers want to see those characters in the books they read. Do these books reflect a different sensibility towards the War than was seen decades ago? Most likely that is because society at large has a different perspective on the War and its causes.

When I was in library school I did a project that looked at the changes in gender in books about astronauts. No shock at all - books written in the 60s had only male astronauts. Modern books show male and female astronauts. It wasn't because the writers had an agenda to change children's views of astronauts. It was simply a realistic depiction of where we are today, with astronauts of all genders.
 

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
As a note to the moderators. I was unsure of the proper forum to put this thread in so if a moderator wants to move it to a more controlled forum, they should do so. I also am a bit worried that some forum members may post responses that may force this thread to be moved.
 

7thWisconsin

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
When I was a child, my favorite book about the Civil War was ¨We Were There... at the Battle of Gettysburg¨by Alida Malkus from the ¨We Were There¨ series. Although it is riddled with historical inaccuracies, I think the plot holds up pretty well and she puts Johnny in places on the battlefield to view significant parts of the battle as they´re happening. Plus those Vosburgh illustrations are beautiful! When my own children were little, they were fond of ¨Gentle Annie¨ by Mary Shura, and the Addy books from the American Girl collection, written by Connie Rose Porter. I really like the Addy series myself. Both of those books bring different perspectives to the Civil War, being interested in the perspective of women and people of color.
Now there was an edition of Thomas Buchanan Read´s famous ¨Sheridan´s Ride¨ that was printed as a stand alone children´s book, illustrated by Nancy Parker. We all liked this book for the colorful illustrations. I liked the way it introduced a classic poem to a totally new generation.
 
Top