The Whole World Shook: Shifts In Ethnic, National And Heroic Identities In Children's Books About 9/11

Year: 2007

Author: Lampert, Jo

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Popular discourse tells us that on September 11, 2001 the world changed. This paper examines how cultural identities are constructed within fictional texts for young people written about September 11. Drawing on the theory of children's literature that includes both critical literary analysis and cultural studies, the paper locates three identity categories encoded in 9/11 books for children: ethnic identities, national identities, and heroic identities. It analyses twelve exemplar children's texts about 9/11, including equal numbers of picture books and young adult fiction. The 'story' of September 11 in these texts perform versions of cultural identities that are iterated and reiterated, drawing on old versions of identities as well as contributing to new ones. They represent an ever complex world, one with a strong desire to pronounce certainties in increasingly uncertain times. Being a very new corpus of texts about 9/11, these books provide instruction on the kinds of 'selves' privileged since 2001. The shifting identities which may be evident in texts that are being produced for children about 9/11 contribute to educating young readers about themselves, others and the world in which we now live.