Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

“Just Like Me, Just Like You”

Narrative Erasure as Disability Normalization in Children’s Picture Books

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2018), 12, (3), 303–319.

Abstract

The article analyzes contemporary representations of disability in children’s picture books that elide visual markers of difference in the name of inclusion. Based on detailed readings of the picture books Susan Laughs (Willis) and My Pal, Victor/Mi Amigo, Víctor (Bertrand) from a media literacy perspective, the argument is that a potentially productive inclusion of characters with disabilities can lead to their narrative erasure by constructing the disability as an individualized problem that needs to be hidden. This narrative erasure and individualization of disability is also prevalent in pedagogical texts including current English as a Foreign Language (EFL) textbooks in Germany, where disability is only superficially engaged. The investigation of online commentaries confirms that the promotion, circulation, and reception of children’s picture books remains strongly embedded in an ableist framework that manifests in “special needs” language use, inclusion discourses, and overcoming narratives. Contrasting these two picture books to No Fair to Tigers/No Es Justo Para los Tigres (Hoffman), the article encourages a DisCrit discourse about picture books that juxtaposes individualized readings of disability with narratives about disabling societal structures that do not shun depicting the lived reality of impairment.

Access Token
£25.00

Amazon. “Susan Laughs: Customer Reviews.” Web. 26 Sept. 2016. Aveling, Helen A. “2D or 3D Characters.” Disability Studies Quarterly 24.1 (2004): n.pag. “Susan Laughs: Customer Reviews.” Disability Studies Quarterly 24.1 Google Scholar

Web. 2 Oct. 2016. Baglieri, Susan. “Toward Unity in School Reform: What DisCrit Contributes to Multicultural and Inclusive Education.” DisCrit: Disability Studies and Critical Race Theory in Education. Eds. David J. Connor, Beth A. Ferri, and Subini A. Annamma. New York: Teachers College, 2016. 167–79. Print. “Toward Unity in School Reform: What DisCrit Contributes to Multicultural and Inclusive Education.” DisCrit: Disability Studies and Critical Race Theory in Education 167 79 Google Scholar

Bell, Chris, ed. Blackness and Disability: Critical Examinations and Cultural Interventions. East Lansing: Michigan State UP, 2011. Print. Blackness and Disability: Critical Examinations and Cultural Interventions Google Scholar

Bertrand, Diane Gonzales. My Pal, Victor/Mi Amigo, Víctor. McHenry: Raven Tree Press, 2004. Print. My Pal, Victor/Mi Amigo, Víctor Google Scholar

Biklen, Douglas, and Robert Bogdan. “Media Portrayals of Disabled People: A Study in Stereotypes.” Interracial Books for Children Bulletin 8.6 & 7 (1977): 4–9. Web. 24 Sept. 2016. “Media Portrayals of Disabled People: A Study in Stereotypes.” Interracial Books for Children Bulletin 7 4 9 Google Scholar

Blanck, Jonna M. “Die vielen Gesichter der Inklusion. Wie SchülerInnen mit Behinderung unterrichtet werden, unterscheidet sich innerhalb Deutschlands stark.” WZBrief Bildung 30/Juni 2015. Berlin: WZB. Print. “Die vielen Gesichter der Inklusion. Wie SchülerInnen mit Behinderung unterrichtet werden, unterscheidet sich innerhalb Deutschlands stark.” WZBrief Bildung 30/Juni 2015 Google Scholar

Börner, Otfried, and Christoph Edelhoff, eds. Camden Market 1. Braunschweig: Diesterweg, 2013. Print. Camden Market 1 Google Scholar

Börner, Otfried, and Christoph Edelhoff, eds. Camden Market 2. Braunschweig: Diesterweg, 2013. Print. Camden Market 2 Google Scholar

Brittain, Isabel. “An Examination into the Portrayal of Deaf Characters and Deaf Issues in Picture Books for Children.” Disability Studies Quarterly 24.1 (2004): n.pag. Web. 26 Nov. 2015. “An Examination into the Portrayal of Deaf Characters and Deaf Issues in Picture Books for Children.” Disability Studies Quarterly 24.1 Google Scholar

Butler, Judith. Undoing Gender. New York: Routledge, 2004. Print. Undoing Gender Google Scholar

Connor, David J., Beth A. Ferri, and Subini A. Annamma, eds. DisCrit: Disability Studies and Critical Race Theory in Education. New York: Teachers College P, 2016. Print. DisCrit: Disability Studies and Critical Race Theory in Education Google Scholar

Dowker, Ann. “The Treatment of Disability in the 19th and 20th Century Children’s Literature.” Disability Studies Quarterly 24.1 (2004): n.pag. Web. 2 Oct. 2016. “The Treatment of Disability in the 19th and 20th Century Children’s Literature.” Disability Studies Quarterly 24.1 Google Scholar

Dyches, Tina Taylor, Mary Anne Prater, and Melissa Leiniger. “Juvenile Literature and the Portrayal of Developmental Disabilities.” Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities 44.3 (2009): 304–17. Web. 25 Sept. 2016. “Juvenile Literature and the Portrayal of Developmental Disabilities.” Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities 44.3 304 17 Google Scholar

Ellis, Katie. Disability and Popular Culture: Focusing Passion, Creating Community and Expressing Defiance. Burlington: Ashgate, 2015. Print. Disability and Popular Culture: Focusing Passion, Creating Community and Expressing Defiance Google Scholar

Emmerson, Jean. “Picture Book Characters with Disabilities: Patterns and Trends in a Context of Radical Change.” Bookbird: A Journal of International Children’s Literature 52.4 (2014): 12–22. Web. 18 Oct. 2016. “Picture Book Characters with Disabilities: Patterns and Trends in a Context of Radical Change.” Bookbird: A Journal of International Children’s Literature 52.4 12 22 Google Scholar

Feyerer, Ewald. “Inklusive Regionen in Österreich. Bildungspolitische Rahmenbedingungen zur Umsetzung der UN-Konvention.” Behinderte Menschen 2 (2013): n.pag. Web. 10 Oct. 2016. “Inklusive Regionen in Österreich. Bildungspolitische Rahmenbedingungen zur Umsetzung der UN-Konvention.” Behinderte Menschen 2 Google Scholar

Fritsch, Kelly. “The Neoliberal Circulation of Affects: Happiness, Accessibility and the Capacitation of Disability as Wheelchair.” Health, Culture and Society 5.1 (2013): 135–49. Web. 19 Nov. 2015. “The Neoliberal Circulation of Affects: Happiness, Accessibility and the Capacitation of Disability as Wheelchair.” Health, Culture and Society 5.1 135 49 Google Scholar

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. “Disability and Representation.” Conference on Disability Studies and the University. Publication of the Modern Language Association 20.2 (2005): 522–27. Web. 17 Oct. 2016. “Disability and Representation.” Publication of the Modern Language Association 20.2 522 27 Google Scholar

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature. New York: Columbia UP, 1997. Print. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature Google Scholar

Goodley Dan. Disability Studies: An Interdisciplinary Introduction. London: Sage, 2011. Print. Disability Studies: An Interdisciplinary Introduction Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Grigoryan, Anna, and John Mark King. “Adbusting: Critical Media Literacy in a Multi-Skills Academic Writing Lesson.” English Teaching Forum 46.4 (2008): 2–9. Web. 3 Apr. 2014. “Adbusting: Critical Media Literacy in a Multi-Skills Academic Writing Lesson.” English Teaching Forum 46.4 2 9 Google Scholar

Hall, Stuart, and Alan O’Shea. “Common-Sense Neoliberalism.” Soundings: A Journal of Politics and Culture 55 (2013): 8–24. Web. 8 Feb. 2014. “Common-Sense Neoliberalism.” Soundings: A Journal of Politics and Culture 55 8 24 Google Scholar

Haß, Frank, ed. Orange Line 1. Seelze: Klett, 2014. Print. Orange Line 1 Google Scholar

Hoffman, Eric. No Fair to Tigers: No Es Justo Para los Tigres. Redleaf Press, 2002. Print. No Fair to Tigers: No Es Justo Para los Tigres Google Scholar

Hughes, Chloë. “Seeing Blindness in Children’s Picture books.” Journal of Literary& Cultural Disability Studies 6.1 (2012): 35–51. Web. 26 Nov. 2015. “Seeing Blindness in Children’s Picture books.” Journal of Literary& Cultural Disability Studies 6.1 35 51 Google Scholar

Irwin, Marilyn, and Robin Moeller. “Seeing Different: Portrayals of Disability in Young Adult Graphic Novels.” School Library Research 13 (2010): 1–13. Web. 2 Oct. 2016. “Seeing Different: Portrayals of Disability in Young Adult Graphic Novels.” School Library Research 13 1 13 Google Scholar

Kafer, Alison. Feminist Queer Crip. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2013. Print. Feminist Queer Crip Google Scholar

Leininger, Melissa, Tina Taylor Dyches, Mary Anne Prater, and Melissa Allen Heath. “Newbery Award Winning Books 1975–2009: How Do They Portray Disabilities?” Education and Training in Autism and Development Disabilities 45.5 (2010): 583–96. Web. 24 Oct. 2016. “Newbery Award Winning Books 1975–2009: How Do They Portray Disabilities?” Education and Training in Autism and Development Disabilities 45.5 583 96 Google Scholar

Linton, Simi. “What Is Disability Studies?” Conference on Disability Studies and the University. Publication of the Modern Language Association 20.2 (2005): 518–22. Web. 17 Oct. 2016. “What Is Disability Studies?” Publication of the Modern Language Association 20.2 518 22 Google Scholar

McMaster, Christopher. “Ingredients for Inclusion: Lessons from the Literature.” Kairaranga 13.2 (2012): 11–22. Web. 11 Oct. 2016. “Ingredients for Inclusion: Lessons from the Literature.” Kairaranga 13.2 11 22 Google Scholar

Melamed, Jodi. Represent and Destroy: Rationalizing Violence in the New Racial Capitalism. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2011. Print. Represent and Destroy: Rationalizing Violence in the New Racial Capitalism Google Scholar

Mellon, Constance A. “Exceptionality in Children’s Books: Combining Apples and Oranges.” School Library Journal 35.14 (1989): 46–47. Web. 18 Oct. 2016. “Exceptionality in Children’s Books: Combining Apples and Oranges.” School Library Journal 35.14 46 47 Google Scholar

Meyer, Abbye E. “‘But She’s Not Retarded’: Contemporary Adolescent Literature Humanizes Disability but Marginalizes Intellectual Disability.” Children’s Literature Quarterly 38.3 (2013): 267–83. Web. 2 Oct. 2016. “‘But She’s Not Retarded’: Contemporary Adolescent Literature Humanizes Disability but Marginalizes Intellectual Disability.” Children’s Literature Quarterly 38.3 267 83 Google Scholar

Mitchell, David T., and Sharon L. Snyder. Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse. Ann Arbor: Michigan UP, 2001. Print. Narrative Prosthesis: Disability and the Dependencies of Discourse Google Scholar

Mitchell, David T., and Sharon L. Snyder. The Biopolitics of Disability: Neoliberalism, Ablenationalism, and Peripheral Embodiment. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2015. Print. The Biopolitics of Disability: Neoliberalism, Ablenationalism, and Peripheral Embodiment Google Scholar

Naidoo, Jamie Campbell, and Allison Ladd. “So Loud a Silence: Library Services to Latino Youth with Disabilities.” Reforma. 15. Dec. 2011. Web. 26 Sept. 2016. “So Loud a Silence: Library Services to Latino Youth with Disabilities.” Reforma Google Scholar

Oliver, Kelly. Witnessing: Beyond Recognition. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2001. Print. Witnessing: Beyond Recognition Google Scholar

Pollard, Scott. “Introduction: The Art of Our Art, the Quirkiness of Our Forms.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 38.3 (2013): 263–66. Web. 26 Nov. 2015. “Introduction: The Art of Our Art, the Quirkiness of Our Forms.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 38.3 263 66 Google Scholar

Powell, Justin J. W., Benjamin Edelstein, and Joanna M. Blanck. “Awareness-raising, Legitimation or Backlash? Effects of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on Education Systems in Germany.” Globalisation, Societies and Education 14.2 (2016): 227–50. Web. 17 Oct. 2016. “Awareness-raising, Legitimation or Backlash? Effects of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on Education Systems in Germany.” Globalisation, Societies and Education 14.2 227 50 Google Scholar

Prater, Mary Anne. “Characterization of Mental Retardation in Children’s and Adolescent Literature.” Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities 34.4 (1999): 418–31. Print. “Characterization of Mental Retardation in Children’s and Adolescent Literature.” Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities 34.4 418 31 Google Scholar

Prater, Mary Anne. “Learning Disabilities in Children’s and Adolescent Literature: How Are Characters Portrayed?” Learning Disability Quarterly 26.1 (2003): 47–62. Print. “Learning Disabilities in Children’s and Adolescent Literature: How Are Characters Portrayed?” Learning Disability Quarterly 26.1 47 62 Google Scholar

Prater, Mary Anne, and Tina Taylor Dyches. Teaching about Disabilities through Children’s Literature. Westport: Libraries Unlimited, 2008. Print. Teaching about Disabilities through Children’s Literature Google Scholar

Schönwiese, Volker. “Inklusion: Eine Schule für alle. Wo steht Tirol? Öffentliche Sitzung des Tiroler Monitoringausschusses.” Web. 13 Oct. 2016. “Inklusion: Eine Schule für alle. Wo steht Tirol? Öffentliche Sitzung des Tiroler Monitoringausschusses.” Google Scholar

Siebers, Tobin. Disability Theory. Ann Arbor: Michigan UP, 2008. Print. Disability Theory Google Scholar

Stockton, Kathryn Bond. The Queer Child, or Growing Sideways in the Twentieth Century. Durham: Duke UP, 2009. Print. The Queer Child, or Growing Sideways in the Twentieth Century Google Scholar

Sturm, Tanja. Lehrbuch Heterogenität in der Schule. München: Ernst Reinhardt Verlag, 2016. Print. Lehrbuch Heterogenität in der Schule Google Scholar

Titchkosky, Tanya. The Question of Access: Disability, Space, Meaning. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2011. Print. The Question of Access: Disability, Space, Meaning Google Scholar

Volkmann, Laurenz. Fachdidaktik Englisch: Kultur und Sprache. Tübingen: Narr, 2010. Print. Fachdidaktik Englisch: Kultur und Sprache Google Scholar

Willis, Jeanne. Susan Laughs. Henry and Holt, 2011. Print. Susan Laughs Google Scholar

Wilson, Rosemary. “Another Language is Another Soul.” Language and Intercultural Communication 13.3 (2013): 298–309. Print. “Another Language is Another Soul.” Language and Intercultural Communication 13.3 298 309 Google Scholar

Young, Stella. “We’re Not Here for Your Inspiration.” Ramp Up. 2 June 2012. Web. 18 Oct. 2016. “We’re Not Here for Your Inspiration.” Ramp Up Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details