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Kate Dicamillo and Her Influence on Children’s Literature, Research Paper Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1181

Research Paper

Introduction

Kate DiCamillo, ambassador of children’s and young people’s literature, and the winner of the Newbery Medal has made significant contributions to education and reading development. The author’s characters are appealing for young children. Her engaging plots encourage readers to engage with the story, while the rich themes of her literary work support primary students’ imagination. The below review of the author’s works will examine the three above literary tools used to encourage elementary school students to read and connect with themes, characters, and events.

Author’s Subgenre

Kate DiCamillo writes realistic fiction for all reading levels. Her books have a contemporary setting that children can relate to. She does not use sophisticated language, instead tries to engage young children in reading. Her contribution to the young reader genre is significant because in America, in 2000, according to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Research and Improvement, reading has a great impact on children’s cognitive development. The 2000 study (Department of Education Office of Educational Research and Improvement, xi) states that “fourth-graders who reported reading more pages daily in school and for homework had higher average scores than students who reported reading fewer pages daily”. The same study found that “students who reported reading for fun on their own time every day had higher average scores than students who reported reading for fun less frequently”. As the books of Kate DiCamillo target elementary school children, and aim to make them interested in the world created by worlds, the interesting and engaging stories can serve as tools to improve overall learning outcomes of school-aged children. Children’s fiction books are suitable for classroom discussion, as well as reading for leisure at home.Camilla The fact that two of the most popular books written by Kate DiCamillo (Tale of Despereaux, and Because of Winn-Dixie) have been adapted for screens have made the stories popular, and great the characters good conversation starters inside and outside of the classroom.

Biography And Background

Kate DiCamillo considers herself a storyteller (Katedicamillo.com). She does not have children, but adores her two nephews and one niece. She has a dog, and loves animals, hence almost all stories have one character that has at least four legs.
While Kate always wanted to be a writer, she struggled with writing for a long time. Her first college essay assignment was a success, but she struggled with it. Her first feedback from the professor determined her future writing career: according to her own autobiography, Trey Greer said: “The person who wrote this actually took the time to see the person she was describing” (Kate DiCamillo, Web). Her philosophy about writing is that “Writing is seeing. It is paying attention” (Kate DiCamillo, Web). Through her positive tone, her books teach children of today to find beauty in everything and good in every person they meet. She creates stories that children and adults can relate to: about family relationships, friendships, loneliness, and helping each other. In an interview with PBS in 2014, she said: “I want to remind people of the great and profound joy that can be found in stories, and that stories can connect us to each other, and that reading together changes everybody involved. So I am not coming at it from a problem angle. I’m coming at it from a celebration angle”. (PBS).

Kate was a shy child, but a child who loved reading. Her mother always read her stories, and she fell in love with many characters. Through writing children’s and young adults’ realistic fiction books, she is trying to recreate the magical experience she had when growing up. She claims that kids’ books are not only for children, as all stories have different layers and interpretations.

Kate Dicamillo’s Contribution to Children’s Realistic Fiction

The first significant contribution of Kate DiCamillo to the realistic young reader genre was creating realistic characters that children and adults can relate to. She often talked about books and movies with animal characters in interviews, such as Charlotte’s web and Black Beauty, however, also said that she could not read sad stories until she was an adult (DiCamillo). This is the reason why these characters – while not perfect – are offering solution and help for each other, instead of dwelling on the problem. She does not focus on problems, but the collaboration of different characters in the books.
The second important aspect of DiCamillo’s writing that makes her books unique and suitable for classrooms of America is that the initial plots of the books are interesting enough to encourage children to carry on reading. A good starting paragraph can get children “hooked on” the story. In the award-winning book, Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal walks into the supermarket and walks out with a large, unkempt “ugly” dog. This plot is suitable for making children interested and ask questions: where did the dog come from, would the father let Opal keep the dog, and would they become friends?
The final important contribution of Kate DiCamillo to children’s realistic fiction literature is that her themes are rich, and full of contemporary references that children can relate to. In her books, she shows descriptions, instead of describing the characters and events. When somebody sings, she writes down the song. This original approach reminds many readers to Saint-Exupery’s Little Prince, where we can see the drawing of the elephant in the snake. In Flora and Ulysses, the Newbery Award winner novel, illustration has a great importance. The themes are drawn in a cartoon format, and described in a humorous manner. The theme of the book is realistic: any elementary school children can imagine how Flora would feel when interacting with her mother. Starting with an experience that is familiar for most readers is creating a connection between the “storyteller” and the characters. The starting paragraph describes an everyday event, but in a humorous manner, getting readers interested in the rest of the story:
“Flora Belle Buckman was in her room at her desk. She was very busy. She was doing two things at once. She was ignoring her mother, and she was also reading a comic book entitled T he Illuminated Adventures of the Amazing Incandesto! (DiCamillo, Flora and Ulysses, 3).

Conclusion

Award-winning author and ambassador of children’s and young people’s literature, Kate DiCamillo has introduced three important unique features to contemporary realistic fiction: showing events instead of describing them, creating realistic characters that children can relate to, and encouraging children to use their imagination through relating to everyday situations from a different angle. Her books are – according to the author – not only intended for children, and focus on solutions through collaboration and friendship, instead of problems, highlighting the issues today’s young people face from a positive angle.

Works Cited

Department of Education Office of Educational Research and Improvement. The Nation’s Report Card Fourth-GradeReading 2000. Web. <http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/main2000/2001499.pdf>

DiCamillo, K. “On Writing”. n.d. Web. <http://www.katedicamillo.com/onwrit2.html>

DiCamillo, K. “Flora and Ulysses” Candlewick Press.

DiCamillo, K. “Biography” Kate DiCamillo National Ambassador For Young People’s Literature. Candlewick Press. n.d. Web. <http://www.katedicamillo.com/pdf/Ambassador_Bio.pdf>

PBS Arts. From author to ambassador, Kate DiCamillo approaches reading with celebration. 2014. Web. <http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/entertainment-jan- june14-literature_01-10/>

“Because of Winn-Dixie” Kate DiCamillo Books Connect Us. n.d. Web. <http://www.katedicamillo.com/onwrit2.html>

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