'Mind you stay on the path!' The representation of the parent-child relationship in stories for children

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It is widely accepted that stories for children may function as educational vehicles to the extent that they model and reflect expectations about children's and adults’ roles and responsibilities. The educational message may be communicated directly through explicit evaluation of characters and events by the narrative voice or indirectly through the writer's representation of the main characters (their actions, experiences and words). This paper presents the findings from a comparative systemic functional linguistics-based discourse analysis of 10 modern British and Italian versions of the popular fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. The analysis shows that – even when telling the same story – very different messages may be conveyed to children in relation to their own and their parents’ responsibility for problems and solutions. It is argued that the insight provided by this study may add to the understanding of cross-cultural differences in pedagogical goals and inform the practice of storytelling in educational contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-156
Number of pages14
JournalCritical Discourse Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2010

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