Chapter

Sikh Children’s Literature and Identity*

Toby B. Johnson

in Sikhism in Global Context

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780198075547
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199082056 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198075547.003.0013
Sikh Children’s Literature and Identity*

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This chapter describes the educational role of Sikh children’s literature (such as the Amar Chitra Katha comic books) and its influence on the development of a Sikh identity among the young. It concentrates on the material aspects of this literature—the books, their artistic depictions, and the specific manners chosen to express Sikhism—that condition the reception of the Sikh tradition by a child, even by one too young to read. The examples presented provide warnings against going off the moral course set by the Gurus. The concept of the Khalsa as a normative identity is presented so ubiquitously that no child can be oblivious of it. Sikhism is expressed through the use of cross-cultural motifs (such as the use of the overtly Christian ‘halo’, the motif of Madonna and Child etc.) that bring Sikhism closer to children growing up in the West. Since the situation for Sikhs in twenty-first-century America is far different than it was thirty years ago, the author points to over-simplification in this literature as being delimiting, and how the continued use of these texts—and the implications of their use—needs to be examined more critically.

Keywords: Sikh children; Sikh children’s literature; Sikh identity; Sikhism; Amar Chitra Katha comics; Sikh Gurus; Khalsa identity; Christian ‘halo’; Madonna and Child motif; Sikhs in America

Chapter.  6993 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Sikhism

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