Poverty in Picture Books

Children can develop, change, strengthen, and question their bias and perceptions through the portal of the picture book. They unravel understandings about themselves, their communities, and the larger world they share. They deepen insight about the known, while peeking at the unknown, as meaning gets created. Children can better understand their sense of self through messages of validation, and can lose confidence when they face isolation from the absence of their narratives. Access and exposure to diverse narratives in picture books offer children opportunities to both learn about their familiar communities, and those unexplored.  Words and illustrations on the pages invite the reader to participate. The exposed and personal experiences unravel off the pages offering a transaction with the reader, and meaning served.  Thus, there is a great need for a variety of representations of family, school, and life, as children seek to deepen their own sense of self and others, through the portrayals they connect too.  Bishop said:

Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange.  These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created and recreated by the author.  When lighting conditions are just right, however a window can be a mirror. (1990, as cited by Harris, 2007, p.153)

Words from A Shelter in Our Car... Mama opens our little ice chest and makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We drank some leftover orange soda. It's sweet but flat.

Early next morning, Mama wakes me up and reminds me, "let's use the restroom in the park before it gets to crowded." It's chilly there, and I shiver as I put on my school clothes. Then I splash water on my face from the faucet.

Words from Getting through Thursday...
And the next day, my family and I grit all we got toward getting' through Thursday. That's because payday at Mama's school where she's a lunch lady doesn't come till Friday.

Words from Those Shoes...
"Grandma, I want them." "There's no room for 'want' around here- just 'need," Grandma says. "And what you need are new boots for winter."

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