Brittney L. Neff
Professor Jackie Stallcup
February 10, 2014
Critical Response Journal
In her article “Once Upon Today: Teaching for Social Justice with Postmodern Picturebooks,” Kathleen O’Neil argues that children, both in and out of classroom settings, would benefit from postmodern picture books because this genre of books not only disrupts the cultural concepts and roles that picture books traditionally evoke, but allows children readers to challenge their understanding of certain social norms and expectations conventionally used in picture books. O’Neal asserts that students who are subjected to postmodern picture books are being asked to think critically about the “status-quo” and this could result in the students reaching a greater awareness of the world around them and the roles that could potentially play in it.
Immediately prior to stating her argument, Kathleen O’Neil discusses the use of postmodern picture books by teachers in order to prompt students into questioning and debating issues within their own personal lives. She then transitions into stating her argument in the third paragraph of her article in the last sentence. She says, “This article examines the use of postmodern picture books in classroom settings to spark discussions that lead to greater awareness on the part of the students of the world around them and the possibilities of their roles in it” (41). Immediately after stating her argument O’Neil initiates a separate section of her article titled “We Turn to Storytellers,” where she discusses the advancement of the current world and how postmodern picture books are responding to these changes.
The opening of Kathleen O’Neil’s article is a discussion of children’s picture books being used throughout history as tools to teach children cultural expectations. O’Neil mentions that children’s books have historical significance in behavioral codes ranging back as far as the seventeenth century, with Charles Perrault as an example, and how they are still used today as a guide for social expectations that readers internalize. This opening functions as a foundation for understanding not only the traditional roles of picture books, but as an illustration of how they are both similar and dissimilar to postmodern picture books. Alternatively, O’Neil closes her article with a single paragraph that is sectioned off from the rest of her article, titled “Conclusion.” In her conclusion, she reiterates previous points made in regards to postmodern picture books being used in a classroom setting. She focuses on the importance of using these texts to give students opportunities to think critically about social expectations and imagine different ways “of being.” The closing of this article functions as...