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Moms In Kid's Literature Deserve Respect

Mike Mantin
Flickr via Creative Commons

The pages of children and young adult's literature are strewn with the corpses of many a mother.  A new collection of essays examines the role of the mother in books for young people and finds that moms can be so much more than what is currently portrayed in a lot of popular fiction.

Karen Coats is a professor in the English Department at Illinois State University, and together with her fellow editor Lisa Rowe-Faustino has pulled from many scholars an examination of how mothers are portrayed in fiction, as well as how some scholars may be doing mothers a disservice in their critiques of books for young people. Mothers in Children's and Young Adult Literature:  From the 18th Century to Postfeminism  aims to analyse the psychology behind mothers appearing in children's and young adult literature.

"What we're trying to do is to get people to think more complexly about mothering," said Karen Coats. "Mothers are the most important person in a child's life and that makes scholarship on mothering difficult, because there's a lot of sentimentality involved, but also a lot of anger and unresolved tension and feelings that people bring, even into their scholarship."  

Mothers are either  vilified in some way, or championed, but mostly, Coats said, mothers are overlooked. "It's tricky to theorize about mothers because people don't want to theorize about their own emotions."

Reporter, content producer and former All Things Considered host, Laura Kennedy is a native of the Midwest who occasionally affects an English accent just for the heck of it. Related to two U.S. presidents, Kennedy appalled her family by going into show business.