Little Girls on the Prairie and the Possibility of Subversive Reading

in Girlhood Studies
Author: Amy Singer 1
View More View Less
  • 1 Franklin and Marshall College amy.singer@fandm.edu
Restricted access

In this article I propose a different way of reading children's novels by identifying types of stories that implicate social structures in their representation of inequality. My analysis focuses on children's novels in order to develop two distinct categories of stories, differentiating between narratives that reinforce the status quo and narratives that challenge it. I illustrate my contention that a subversive story makes visible connections between social power and inequality. To that end, I examine two case studies—Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie and Carol Ryrie Brink's Caddie Woodlawn—to demonstrate how these analytical categories bring to light key differences between two texts which have been subjected to other kinds of comparative analysis, appear to share so much, and are regularly discussed as being good books for girls.