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Family life in children's books


Books play an important role in the socialization of children. In order to understand the images of families presented to children, a sample of best-selling and award-winning children's books was analyzed. Sixty-seven Caldecott and Newbery award winners were selected. Some diversity in family structure was presented in the books. However, none of the black families was a one-parent household, and the image of one-parent households was overwhelmingly negative. Family roles, including the division of household work and paid employment, were depicted traditionally. Presentations of the homemaker role and parent-child relationships are described.

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Reference notes

  1. In reality, in one study of families, 15 percent had routine paid household help at least one a month (Lopata, 1971: 168).

  2. In reference to what Madsen (1979:218) has called the “apron syndrome,” half of the books in the Caldecott sample contain illustrations of women wearing aprons.


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Caldecott Award Winners

  1. Aardema, Verna 1975 Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears. New York: The Dial Press.

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  5. Caudill, Rebecca 1964 A Pocketful of Cricket. New York: Rinehart and Winston, Inc.

  6. Crews, Donald 1978 Freight Train. New York: Greenwillow Books.

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  9. deRegniers, Beatrice Schenk 1964 May I Bring a Friend? New York: Atheneum Publishers.

  10. Emberley, Barbara 1966a Drummer Hoff. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

  11. Emberley, Barbara 1966b One Wide River to Cross. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

  12. Ets, Marie Hall 1965 Just Me. New York: The Viking Press.

  13. Feelings, Muriel 1974 Swahili Alphabet Book. New York: The Dial Press.

  14. Goble, Paul 1978 The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses. Scarsdale, N.Y.: Bradbury Press, Inc.

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  33. Zemach, Margot 1977 It Could Always Be Worse. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Newbery Award Winners

  1. Alexander, Lloyd 1965 The Black Cauldron. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

  2. Alexander, Lloyd 1968 The High King. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

  3. Bond, Nancy 1976 A String in the Harp. New York: Atheneum Publishers.

  4. Cleary, Beverly 1977 Ramona and Her Father. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.

  5. Collier, James Lincoln, and Christopher Collier 1974 My Brother Sam Is Dead. New York: Four Winds Press.

  6. Cooper, Susan 1976 The Grey King. New York: Atheneum Publishers.

  7. deTrevino, Elizabeth Borton 1965 I, Juan de Pareja. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

  8. Greene, Bette 1974 Phillip Hall Likes Me, I Reckon Maybe. New York: The Dial Press.

  9. Hamilton, Virginia 1974 M. C. Higgins The Great. New York: The Macmillan Company.

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  33. Yep, Lawrence 1975 Dragonwings. New York: Harper and Row Publishers, Inc.

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Adler, E.S. Family life in children's books. J Fam Econ Iss 5, 24–41 (1982). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01083284

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  • Social Policy
  • Family Structure
  • Social Issue
  • Family Life
  • Family Role