Mother's Day: Do you really honor mothers in children's books?

Mother’s Day: Do you really honor mothers in children’s books?

Here’s an interesting fact to stop by for Mother’s Day. In children’s books, the common name “mother” is the word most used to refer to female characters, and has been since the 19th century.e century. Despite this, these mothers are rarely the heroines of children’s fairy tales – and often they don’t even have a first or last name. They are part of the supporting roles, and sometimes they are dead or completely absent from the plot.

We explored these gender issues in children’s literature by analyzing the frequency of words such as “mother” in a selection of texts from Beatrix Potter’s tales to contemporary titles. Comparing nineteenth-century books with contemporary novels has allowed us to understand how the repetition of certain linguistic patterns translates a societal view of society.

Read more: Children and Teens: Nine Novels Against Gender Stereotypes

What is necessary, to read the data of the nineteenthe As the most recent data, is the inequality of representation between the sexes. When we examine pairs of words such as the articles ‘he’ and ‘she’, the nouns ‘man’ and ‘woman’, the extent of the imbalance is clear: in 19e century, the word “he” doubles the frequency of “she,” and remains 1.8 times more frequent in modern texts. Moreover, the “man” appears 4.5 times more than the “woman” in the 19 . groupe Century against 2.8 times in contemporary fiction.

Common opinion about races

It also reveals the range of occupations occupied by men and women. In all the events mentioned in 19e Century, as you might expect, the roles for women are very limited: queens, princesses, nurses, maids, nannies or nanny – there aren’t many options other than this list.

While there are fewer maids and nannies in modern scripts, there are always queens and princesses. But, although in theory they are open to women, professions (from driver to doctor, including teacher, officer, spy, chief, judge, farmer, pilot, scientist, and minister, to name a few) remain embodied. largely in male characters in children’s stories.

It’s another example of what writer and activist Caroline Criado-Perez calls the “gender data gap” when she brings up unseen bias in a world designed for men. In this sense, fiction and the real world are very similar.

A comparison of the way women are referred to in nineteenth century children’s books and modern children’s literature.
Michaela Mahlberg / Anna Sermakova, University of BirminghamAnd the Author introduced

Mothers are highlighted more when the context of gender representation is biased. They are present in most of the texts we have studied, and much more so than other typical female characters in children’s books such as witches and queens.

Mothers and close ones

But if mothers are present, they are rarely at the center of the story and are often identified with the simple fact of being a mother to such-and-such character: “Martha’s mother sent me jump rope. I jump and run,” Frans Hodgson Burnett wrote in her classic 1911 film, secret Garden.

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Houghton Library, Harvard

Basically, the role of mothers is to take care of their children. Rachel wrote in her memoirs of the novel: “I am known for my reading skills, which I owe greatly to my mother.” Back to LifeWritten by Joanna Nadine.

Sometimes the rules they enforce irritate or frustrate the protagonists. In another book in the same series, Rachel says, “My mom refused what I asked only ‘because it’s like that.’ But mothers are always there to support their children, as Maya’s mother explains in a novel by Tim Poehler:

Maya continued crying. “It will be fine,” his mother said, “it will be fine.”
“It can’t be okay, I’m horrible,” Maya says.
Her mother replied, “You’re not terrible.”

And as you might expect, moms are often the people kids trust. “Usually, I tell my mother everything that happens in my life. But I can’t tell her about Jack and his failed kiss, or the shock of seeing her with Sybil,” so says my heroine, Julia Clarke.

If John’s mother, Rhiannon Lassiter’s hero, dies, and his father remarries, she is constantly present in the little boy’s mind: “He remembered his mother’s scent, like apples and soap, the way the arms took him to wish him good night. They were little mementos, but they were It’s all his.”

Although mothers often stay in the background, without them the story certainly would not be complete. In fact, they play many diverse roles in the lives of their children. And they are not just mothers.

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