University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Place of Publication
Children’s literature in the U.S. has long since reflected, and also influenced, the nation’s societal and cultural identity. The genre’s representation of gender has historically aligned with traditionally distinct and separate sex-typed roles of domestic or non-domestic behavior. Through textual analysis of 80 New York Times bestselling picture books between 2009 and 2019, this research seeks to determine if publishers and consumers are selecting titles that support or subvert stereotypical gender roles. Prior studies on gender representation in children’s literature have concluded that the prevalence of static, passive female characters and active male characters negatively impacts the identity development of child readers (Gooden and Gooden; Hamilton et al.; DeLoache et al.; Bishop). The studies’ findings when paired with an analysis of Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever informed my approach to the literary analysis. Although there is an improvement in the quality of female representation in the sample, stereotypical tropes of male and female behavior recur frequently. While male characters comprise the majority of the sample, there are no male minority characters; in fact, only five of the 80 titles centered on a female minority character. Though the presence of gender stereotypes appears to be gradually declining in children’s literature, representation of diverse characters and narratives remains low.
B. A.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Arts.
Children's literature -- History and criticism; Picture books for children
Children's and Young Adult Literature
Scott, Mackenzie, "Gender, intertextuality & market demands: publishing children's picture books" (2020). Honors Theses.