Friday, May 23, 2008

Carole Bloch... interesting literacy activist - scholar in South Africa

I just stumbled across this summary of her dissertation. She seems to have enormous energy, producing children's books and cogent analysis... one extract:
One of the challenges we face in situations of scarcity is that every effort seems to be only a drop in the ocean, but at the same time a precious drop, and there is thus a tendency to try and achieve all things with each bit of material produced. We have to achieve a balance between allowing for free creative expression and making appropriate decisions that reflect considered values, positive role models and balanced perspectives for gender, age, rural-urban setting, disability, health, religion and so on. This is not to be politically correct, but a recognition that if we are to offer ways for all children to discover the joy of reading and come to experience it as personally meaningful and satisfying, they have to be able to find something of themselves in the text. It is when stories, including both their written and visual texts, are able to reach children at an affective level, ?in a warm emotional context? (Frost et al 2005:63) that they wield their magic and power. Sometimes rough, but authentic examples of the beginnings of this process exist in stories for young children. Brave Little Cat 2003), which arose from the first writers and illustrators workshop that I initiated and facilitated on behalf of PRAESA (see Appendix 1), tells a story about little Ra-cat, who had a lot to cope with:

Ra-cat felt sick as if there was a big storm going on in his stomach.
He didn’t know what to feel first.
Anger, sadness or loneliness.
And it was all his mom’s fault (Maqeba 2003:2).

His mom was drunk and didn’t care for him and he had to bare the derision of his
teacher and classmates when he came to school dirty. But he finally found friendship and a home with Chicky, whose mother took him under her wing, saying, “A young cat like you shouldn’t be alone with all his sorrow” (Maqeba 2003:22). It is a compelling story because it is written and illustrated from the heart of the author, Mzamo Maqeba and it speaks to the themes of innumerable childhoods, which can be dealt with in a story in powerful but subtle ways.

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