Social Justice In Contemporary North American Children’s Picture Books: An Intersectional Analysis
For as long as there have been young readers, children’s literature has served educational purposes, intentional and otherwise, inside and outside of the classroom. Children’s literature is an important learning resource for youth in many contexts, including libraries, schools, and homes. At a time when worsening disparities are intensifying social justice issues at levels from the interpersonal to the international, it is no surprise that related subjects are being included in children’s literature, too. But how and to what end are social justice matters being addressed in children’s literary titles? This research uses Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) of text and image to investigate how the North American publishing industry is engaging with social justice issues in children’s literature publications in an intersectional way, examining eight selected picture books and their respective marketing strategies. The study provides a foundational analysis that supports introducing critical social justice literacies to young children. Through an assessment of factors influencing publishers and consumers of children’s picture books, and the emergence of titles that address the social justice issues that children must begin to navigate, even when they are very young, this project addresses multiple concerns. Of interest to publishers, authors and illustrators of children’s books, scholars working within the fields English Literature, Creative Writing, Women’s and Gender Studies, Education, and Marketing, and to the parents, teachers and librarians who work diligently to place progressive picture books into the hands of children, this research examines the treatment of social issues emerging from the many communities that constitute the North American picture book learning public.
Children’s Literature, Social Justice, Critical Literacies, Intersectionality
Master of Arts (M.A.)