Unsettling Fictions: Disrupting Popular Discourses and Trickster Tales in Books for Children

Judy Iseke-Barnes


This paper examines why stories and storytelling within education are important, discusses reasons why appropriation of stories is problematic, raises issues with the process of sharing cultural stories from around the world, and discusses Trickster stories and the complexity of these stories. With this background, we then critique the book Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest by Gerald McDermott as an example of the complexity teachers, parents, and librarians face in teaching with books for children that are appropriated from Indigenous knowledges. In an example of teachers engaging with a story told from an Indigenous perspective, A Coyote Columbus Story (King, 1992), students engage in disrupting boundaries and transforming the classroom experiences. These examples highlight the challenges and responsibilities of rejecting literature that appropriates Indigenous knowledges and moves towards teaching with Indigenous literatures. Educators are challenged to consider Indigenous literatures written from Indigenous perspectives and to engage with these in ways that transform educational experiences.

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