Representing marginalised childhoods in contemporary graphic novels and picture books in India
Childhood has been constructed in multiple ways in children’s literature, which constructs the world of and for the child, in tandem with and shaped by macrostructural flows in society. In recent years, new texts have been published that represent the ‘lived experience’ of the child from the marginalised sections (Dalits and tribals). These texts introduce children to caste-based conflicts, having gained impetus from non-government organisations (NGOs) and publishing houses such as Navayana, Tulika and Katha. This chapter is a study of select contemporary texts that construct marginalised childhoods and represent education as a tool of transformation in fighting marginalisation. It is an attempt to understand how through the construction of marginalised children, these texts discuss issues such as education, labour, untouchability and discrimination. In the process, they highlight the presence of multiple childhoods, some more advantaged than others. They seek to represent how marginalised children, be they Dalits or tribals, grapple with these problematic issues of caste-based oppression and marginalisation. School, here, emerges as a central site where these issues are encountered and negotiated. These texts reflect how important the role of such counter-narratives is for children and alternative publishing ventures, promoting the presence of marginalised children.