Sunday, September 19, 2010


Regardless of your opinions on politics, right or left leaning, it is a fact that we've never had quite such a literary President. His first book, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE, was followed by the AUDACITY OF HOPE: THOUGHTS ON RECLAIMING THE AMERICAN DREAM. His most recent work is due in November and is a children's book, OF THEE I SING: A LETTER TO MY DAUGHTERS. Not only does President Obama write, he is heavily written about in children's literature as well.

Philip Nel, professor in English and director of K-State’s program in Children’s Literature, presented the idea of "Obamafiction" in a lecture with the same title. He posited that books carry hope for youth and create a hero for children in the U.S.

"To write this piece, I pursued four main areas of inquiry,” Nel said. “I read some of the 57 children’s books about Obama — all of the picture books and comic books, plus a few of the others. I also did some work to situate my argument within the fields of children’s literature in general, and African-American children’s literature in particular.”

He stated that children’s literature is the critical because people read it before their ideas about the world are fully formed. And because of this, children's literature is inherently political. Supply and demand for these kinds of books plays a role -- the U.S. tends to idealize presidents as a hero and a role model, blurring the line between actuality and what people want. Surprisingly, few of these books were created for former president George W. Bush. At the end of the day, we know that literature has a powerful influence on young minds.

1 comment:

  1. "...blurring the line between actuality and what people want."
    It's almost scary, isn't it? In a way, I think if we must have fictionalized heroes, perhaps it would be safer to stick to, I don't know, King Arthur? There is something strange about such idolization of someone who is still alive.
    But I totally agree about the power of literature on young minds. And as much as we authors must be aware of that and responsible for our words--thank goodness for good literature!