Explain why the story you’ve chosen needs a modern-day reevaluation according to some communities. Provide specific examples that highlight its offensive portrayals of race, gender, class, violence, or sex.

Paper Option #2: Controversial Books

Step 1: Consider

As Herbert Kohl, author of Should We Burn Babar? Essays on Children’s Literature and the Power of Stories, explains, some books that are considered classics of children’s literature actually send powerful, often negative messages to children. For example, Kohl explains why a book like Little House on the Prairie might be viewed as offensive and why its attitude toward Native American culture presents a problem for parents and educators. How, he asks, can we share with children a book that promotes prejudice while we attempt to teach the opposite values?

Step 2: Read

From the list below, select one piece that a community might have reservations about sharing with a child because of its questionable content regarding race, gender, social class, violence, or sex:

Sam and the Tigers

The Story of Little Black Sambo

The Giver

Little House on the Prairie

Step 3: Write

Explain why the story you’ve chosen needs a modern-day reevaluation according to some communities. Provide specific examples that highlight its offensive portrayals of race, gender, class, violence, or sex. Be sure to fully explain why the examples you give reveal the book’s prejudices.

Next, consider that although Kohl doesn’t advocate burning such stories, he admits to having buried books about Columbus that furthered racial stereotypes. Explain what you think should be done with the story you’ve chosen. Should it be shared with children? Why or why not? Is there any value in sharing stories with children that include questionable material? Is the answer to burn or bury these kinds of stories rather than sharing them with children? Vigorously defend your responses; consider using Kohl, our class discussions, or other pieces we’ve read as a class to support your evaluation.

Papers should be approximately 3-4 pages in length; see specific audience expectations below.


An intelligent, interested friend who has not read our class texts or benefited from our class discussions.

Audience Expectations:

Analysis: a detailed examination of a specific text and well-explained examples that support your interpretation. You’ve carefully considered the critical text(s) we’ve discussed that relate to this issue and you’ve responded to their theories when appropriate. When offering opinions, it’s clear that you’ve thought through the ramifications of your claims and how different groups might be affected.
Thesis Statement: a clearly stated thesis which makes an assertion about the literary work you’ve chosen and conveys the purpose of your paper and your opinion.
Organization: a tight sense of organization, with a logical flow of ideas and smooth use of transitions so that one paragraph lends itself to the next. Each main idea supports or relates to the thesis. Each main point is supported and developed fully and logically in its own paragraph.
Use of Sources: outside sources serve as secondary support for your points. You’ve successfully integrated source information and your own ideas. Summaries, paraphrases, and direct quotes are properly punctuated, credited, and presented. The source’s author is initially introduced by first and last name, and subsequently by last name only. You’ve fully explained, analyzed, and interpreted any quotes used. Book titles are underlined, while short story, myth, fable, and legend titles are in quotation marks. All titles are properly capitalized.
Mechanics: the paper has been reviewed for and is free of mechanical errors, including spelling, grammar, punctuation, word choice, and sentence structure. You have clearly stated sentences and a clean writing style. You have followed the paper formatting guidelines in the syllabus.
MLA Documentation: proper use of both parenthetical citations and a works cited page, in correct MLA format.
Papers must 1) be double-spaced, 2) have equal 1″ margins on all sides, 3) use only black ink, 4) use a standard font such as Times New Roman and 12 pt. font size, 5) follow MLA guidelines for citing other authors, 6) include underlined book titles and quotation marks around short story, fairy tale, myth, or legend titles, and 7) be spell-checked and edited properly for grammar and punctuation.


Academic LevelCollege (3-4 years: Junior, Senior)
Subject AreaLiterature
Paper Type Essay
Number of Pages4 Page(s)/1100 words
Paper FormatAPA
SpacingDouble spaced

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