The term identity has undergone many changes since 1690, when John Locke introduced the idea that a sense of personal identity is composed of a relatively stable and enduring consciousness. The word identity derives from the Latin idem, meaning “same,” thus creating a theoretical conundrum for contemporary theorists who have adopted the more current usage from twentieth-century ideas of identity as a personal possession, open to change and negotiation in dialectic interaction between self and society, between biological and cultural determinism and choice. The representation of identity in children’s literature reflects this historical shift in its gradual evolution from perceiving its readers’ identities (1) as faithful or aspiring adherents to the dominant religious ideology of their society, (2) as members of a family who support and abide by specific cultural and national traditions, (3) as persons with some degree of psychological depth and conflict, and (4) as self-reliant individuals responsible for constructing their own identities sometimes within, and sometimes over and against, the dominant ideologies of their cultures.

This essay may be found on page 98 of the printed volume.

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