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TitleChildren"s responses to Maurice Sendak"s "Where the wild things are" : a study conducted at a Cape Town public library
AuthorDeacon, Loraine Elaine
SubjectChildren - Books and reading
SubjectChild psychology
AbstractBibliography: leaves 310-320.
AbstractOne of the main hypotheses under scrutiny is that a child"s responses to a children"s book are likely to be influenced to a significant degree by his stage of cognitive development. A second major premise is that domains of human development and existence other than the cognitive (such as the emotional, physical and social) will also play a role in such responses. The two main components of the dissertation are: (a) a literature survey (Section B, Ch. 2 - 6, Section C, Ch. 7 - 8); and (b) an empirical study (Section D, Ch. 9 - 10). The literature survey comprises two fields, viz (a) child development theories, including those of cognitive development, with particular reference to the writings of Piaget; and (b) aspects of children"s literature in general, as well as an analysis of the book selected for the empirical study, viz Sendak"s Where the wild things are. An outline of the methodology of the empirical study precedes the analysis of the data obtained in a study of the responses of 104 subjects, selected by random sampling at a Cape Town public library during afternoons over a four-week period in March 1984. The subjects ranged in age from 7 to 12 years, i.e., the Piagetian period of concrete and formal operations respectively. Data were collected by the completion of an interview schedule or a questionnaire, identical in wording to the interview schedule. The method of data-collection depended upon the reading and writing ability or the preference of the subject. Time allowed for the reading of the book by the subject (or by the researcher on behalf of the subject) and for the answering of the questions was unlimited. Critics" views upon controversial aspects of the book, discussed in the literature survey, formed the basis of the eleven questions, five of which were dichotomous and six of which were open. The aspects were: (a) the possibility that there are fear-inducing elements in the book; (b) the effect upon the child of the handling of the anger of Max, the protagonist, by the author-artist; (c) the realisation by the child reader that Max"s mother loves her son; and (d) the awareness on the part of the child of the distinction between fantasy and reality. The subjects were divided into two groups, viz those in the period of concrete operations (7 to 10 years) and those in the period of formal operations (11 to 12 years). Responses (with the exception of those to the last question, which required literature appreciation responses) were classified with reference to the cognitive, emotional, physical and social domains to yield quantitative and qualitative results. These results substantiate the main hypotheses. It was also found that, although some respondents experienced fear or anger during exposure to Where the wild things are, the impact of these negative emotions could be offset by an awareness on the part of the majority of the subjects of the love directed at Max by his mother. The majority of subjects were able to distinguish between the fantasy world and the reality of Max"s home.
PublisherUniversity of Cape Town
PublisherLibrary and Information Studies Centre (LISC)