Topics of Stress and Abuse in Children’s Literature for Intermediate Readers

Wendy Smith, Susan Thompson


Wendy M. Smith-D’Arezzo

(Corresponding author)

Loyola University Maryland

4501 North Charles Street

Baltimore, MD 21210

United States

410-617-2194 (o)

410-617-5097 (fax)


Susan C. Thompson

University of Northern Colorado, Greeley

School of Teacher Ed Office

McKee Hall 280

Campus box 107

Greeley, CO 80639-0001

United States




Incidents of child abuse and neglect are reported daily in the United States, currently numbering close to 900,000 cases per year. Children are abused/maltreated physically, emotionally and sexually, in addition to being abused through neglect. Introducing this topic in the intermediate grades as a social justice/civil rights issue is one way to open the door to discussions of child abuse with children who may be experiencing abuse in their homes. Included here is an in-depth analysis of thirteen current texts for intermediate readers that contain significant incidents of child maltreatment, comparing the abuse within the books to actual statistics and types of maltreatment currently recognized within the United States. Suggestions and guidelines are given to teachers for using these books with children, although cautions against using bibliotherapy are clear throughout.


Key words:

Child abuse/maltreatment

Children’s literature

Intermediate grades

Social justice

Full Text:



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