and I am trying to clean out the bookshelves of library titles post-dissertation, I'm realizing that this blog has to become way less entertaining and way more practical for awhile. So it will, with apologies to my loyal readers. I'll try to throw in tidbits for you, but my need to record what I've read is taking precedence for the moment.
Recently Read Things:
--Several articles on children's interactions with an online storytelling environment in Portugal: http://gaips.inesc-id.pt/gaips/shared/docs/Prada02Teatrix.pdf
This was the better one of the two, but both articles begged the question: why create a computer program to do something kids can do just as easily with a dress-up box? Is it to direct them toward acting out particular stories? It inevitably does this, which raises questions about which stories are selected and how children are enculturated.
--Illick, American Childhoods
This was one of many titles of its ilk that I read parts of and cited in the diss. It is divided into chapters that reflect the different "paths" (to quote Harvey Graff) that children may take through childhood: American Indian, European, African American, Urban Middle-Class, Urban Working-Class. It's the kind of book that is better than so many others in terms of adding specificity to scholarship on each of these forms of childhood, and yet still manages to generalize wildly about each of these groups. Is it fair to critique it for doing so? I'm not sure. It's more the product of the confusing multi-cultural project of representing more groups in historical scholarship while retaining the idea that it's possible to know something meaningful about each of these groups, as a group.
He does mention, in the section on middle-class childhood, the 19thc invention of the birthday party and of Christmas as a child's holiday, which he dates to 1893 and cites Clement along with a 1984 doctoral diss by Calvert from U. of Penn titled To Be a Child: An Analysis of the Artifacts of Childhood (sounds interesting). I'm sure the book How Old Are You gets into the birthday party thing in more detail.
--Welter, Barbara. Dimity Convictions
This was the book CJ steered me towards as a good starting point for 19thc history of women. I'm still not sure why this one struck her as important, though it was a good read. I found the chapter on "The Cult of True Womanhood, 1820-1860" to be useful in thinking about how the cultural role of women resonated with, informed, and even created to some degree the cultural role of the children's librarian. But there were other histories in this area I liked more... I'll have to blog them...
That's all for now. I have a stack at the office that will be getting the same treatment.