Date Approved

2016

Date Posted

4-27-2016

Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department

English Language and Literature

First Advisor

Dr. Ramona Caponegro

Abstract

In recent years, a notable increase of diverse texts, including those written about non- White characters, has entered the field of children's literature helping to represent a racially comprehensive audience. One area that does not garner as much attention in the field, even in multicultural children's literature, is biracial children's literature, with little emphasis falling on novels with biracial protagonists. With the growing number of families in the United States identifying as biracial or multi-racial, it is important to examine the representations of biracial characters encountered by youth in books. The young adult novels, Sarah Jamila Stevenson's The Latte Rebellion (2011), Joan Steinau Lester's Black, White, Other (2011), Sandra Forrester's Dust from Old Bones (1999), Matt de la Pella's Mexican Whiteboy (2008), and Jaime Adoff's The Death of Jayson Porter (2008), work against the idea of people (and characters) having to choose an identity that alienates part of themselves. Characters navigate through the channels of biraciality while developing a sense of what Lourdes India Ivory calls "biracial competency" and "biracial efficacy" allowing them to function successfully within both racial groups (Ivory 2010). In addition, these novels highlight the various intersectional forces that can potentially stand in the way of a character's ability to successfully develop in relation to Ivory's concepts specifically in regard to their basic psychological, emotional, and safety needs. This research analyzes the different forces that impact character identity development and how each of these forces contributes to a character's overall ability to become comfortable as a biracial individual.

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