Exploring Occupational Stereotypes in Children’s Picture Books

By Cindy Hendricks, James Hendricks, Trinka Messenheimer, M Sue Houston and Julian Williford.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

With the increased use of children’s literature in reading instruction, picture books have become increasingly important and influential sources of learning. Allen, Allen and Sigler (1993) state, “Picture books…are used before many other influences are present in a child’s life” (p. 72). According to Lystad (1984), “Children’s books…offer unusual insights into the ideal values and behavior patterns prescribed for children…they reveal what adults- parents and observers- believe the society to be at its best, despite what it actually is or may be” (p. xii). Picture books provide children with information about their world through vicarious experiences while simultaneously capitalizing on children’s natural desires and interests to communicate with those in their world. Lynch-Brown and Tomlinson (1993) explain, “The combination of intriguing text, art, and topics found in picture books feeds children ideas, stimulates their imagination and curiosity, and provides them with a rich vocabulary to use in book-related questions and discussions” (p. 55). This manuscript presents three similar studies on occupational stereotypes and how they are represented in children’s picture books. For each study, a content analysis was conducted on 25 picture books. Each book was analyzed for (a) gender representation, (b) perceived portrayal of gender, (c) relationship between gender roles in books as compared to national statistics, (d) authenticity of gender roles, and (e) accuracy in portrayal of occupation. The occupations for this investigation included: police officer, farmer, and cook. Each occupation will be discussed separately as to how it is represented in the picture books and then an overall summary will be presented as to how these examples of occupations are being created for young children. The conclusion includes a discussion of the purpose and use of picture books.

Keywords: Picturebooks, Children’s Literature, Gender, Stereotypes

International Journal of the Book, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.137-148. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.170MB).

Dr. Cindy Hendricks

School Director, School of Teaching and Learning, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA

Dr. James Hendricks

Department Chair, Criminal Justice, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, USA

Dr. Trinka Messenheimer

School Director, School of Intervention Services, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA

Dr. M Sue Houston

Associate Dean, College of Education & Human Development, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA

Dr. Julian Williford

Associate Professor, School of Family and Consumer Sciences, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA


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