The Construction of Identity through Early Childhood Curriculum: Examining Picturebooks from a Critical Feminist Lens

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Picturebooks are an important part of the classroom environment in early childhood education. They open doors to new experiences, nurture students' cultural identities, and invite students to explore connections across cultures. In the United States today, many of the picturebooks that are available to teachers and students in preschool classrooms come from the state curriculum that the school district has implemented. Shifting demographic trends have led many educators to recognize a need for more diversity of literature in classrooms. This study was conducted in response to this growing concern that books should better reflect the cultures and identities of the … continued below

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viii, 122 pages

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Medellin, Kelly December 2018.

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  • Medellin, Kelly

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Picturebooks are an important part of the classroom environment in early childhood education. They open doors to new experiences, nurture students' cultural identities, and invite students to explore connections across cultures. In the United States today, many of the picturebooks that are available to teachers and students in preschool classrooms come from the state curriculum that the school district has implemented. Shifting demographic trends have led many educators to recognize a need for more diversity of literature in classrooms. This study was conducted in response to this growing concern that books should better reflect the cultures and identities of the children who read them, with a particular emphasis on young female children of color. The research question guiding this study is: How do picturebook texts and illustrations in an early childhood curriculum represent the identities of female characters of color as viewed through a critical feminist theoretical lens? To investigate this question, I critically analyzed children's picturebooks from a current early childhood curriculum adopted by the state of Texas, focusing on representations of gender and race. The selected books were analyzed using critical content and critical visual analyses to consider how the text and illustrations together represent female characters of color. Although earlier studies of picturebooks have pointed out a deficit of authentic portrayals of female characters of color, this study found that books in the sample did show some attention to authentic cultural themes including motherhood, action and agency, and subjugated knowledge and culture. However, implications for practice and research included the need for more balanced representation of diverse cultures within the curriculum to better reflect preschool demographics, as well as the need for more classroom instruction on books that give voice and agency to young female children of color as they develop their personal and cultural identities.

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viii, 122 pages

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  • December 2018

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Jan. 19, 2019, 9:34 p.m.

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  • Sept. 9, 2021, 1:16 p.m.

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Medellin, Kelly. The Construction of Identity through Early Childhood Curriculum: Examining Picturebooks from a Critical Feminist Lens, dissertation, December 2018; Denton, Texas. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1404521/: accessed January 19, 2022), University of North Texas Libraries, UNT Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; .

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