Childhood Through the Lens of Adversity

There are many thoughts and memories that are associated with the phrase “childhood”. It is more often than not accompanied by the concept of innocence and happiness. While this can be a common association for some, the word childhood has a very loaded meaning. The Keywords For Children’s Literature essay for the word childhood describes childhood as an experience, while had by all, that differs in for every individual. Childhood refers to not only an identity but also a chronological time. While childhood may be experienced from ages ranging from 0-18, there is an entire spectrum of maturity that is accessed. Some individuals because of their culture or circumstances may be expected to take on certain responsibilities that others will not be obligated to take on until the concept known as adulthood. Because of gender, class, and race, amongst other representations of identity, an individual’s childhood is extremely unique. Therefore, the concept of “Children’s Literature” can be a complicated topic. The narratives that are written through children’s literature demonstrate a certain expectation that childhood should represent. In “Meet Kirsten” Kirsten’s childhood is defined by the presentation of innocence amongst a troubling time. Her family is moving across the country, dealing with the implications of tragedy and trying to assert themselves into an unfamiliar culture. However, Kirsten enters each situation with a renewed perspective and brings forth her curiosity to new experiences. The placement of childhood innocence and a confusing moment in life is important as she works through her challenges. In a new place with not much comfort, Kirsten demonstrates a model of childhood accompanied by adversity. The difficulties she faces allow her to make America her home and feel connected to others through similarities. Further, this makes me think of different narratives told throughout the Netflix series, “Cheer.” This documentary series follows a competitive cheer team as they work towards their championship competition. Throughout the show, several different members of the team are highlighted as their complicated pasts are shared. Many of the individuals on the team come from “broken homes” and have faced great difficulty with family, relationships, and tragedy. Yet, they emerged from these difficult situations determined to put their energy into being a part of something big. I think this is reflective that even through difficult childhood scenarios, the determination to be successful can allow for positivity. The narrative of childhood can be different for every individual, but the notion of pushing through hard circumstances can be a commonality. While these two stories are entirely different in a multitude of ways, the concept of childhood adversity met with strength is true for both of them. The concept of childhood is representative of the innocence that perseveres throughout.

4 thoughts on “Childhood Through the Lens of Adversity”

  1. In class today we discussed what children literature should be about and how most people believe it is inappropriate to talk about death to children. However, as you mention in this post, children will experience adversity during their childhood and it is important not to hide these things and not talk about them in literature, because it is a part of life and should be shared and discussed.

  2. It is interesting to give an age range of childhood being the age of 0-18 because the word is also sometimes constructed by the people around you and what they think you are. Some older family members still believe you are a child at 30 so I would argue that there might be some part of you that is always in some ways a child other than age. However I agree that these concepts can become very complicated topics.

  3. This was very well put together and bought up interesting points. I agree that childhood and all that comes with it is very subjective from person to person. I feel like the examples of this are endless and many children books can depict hardships of childhood in a vague manor which brings an innocent sense. Showing how most books still show examples of success and positive is something I have noticed but never put into words.

  4. I agree with the fact that Children’s literature can be a complicated subject. Many stories that are meant for children involve life lessons through adversity these children face. Although some people think that it might not be right for a child to read about such circumstances, I believe that a child should not be sheltered too much and that children’s literature in a way exposes them to real-life situations they will one day experience.

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