Children's Literature in Education

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 238–250 | Cite as

Anti-racist Strategies in Finnish Children’s Literature: Physical Appearance and Language as Signifiers of National Belonging

  • Jaana Pesonen
Original Paper


This article examines anti-racist strategies employed in Finnish children’s literature. The examples from four stories illustrate that certain physical characteristics and cultural markers can become strong signifiers of nationality, that is Finnishness. The characters in these stories have to cope with experiences of exclusion and loneliness before the people around them learn that difference and diversity do not change the fact that all humans are worth the same. However, the paper argues that the intended positive outcome of books with a strong anti-racist agenda threatens to be lost as heavily accentuated moral lessons often become counterproductive. The paper demonstrates some of the changes that have taken place in Finnish children’s literature during the past two decades and addresses significant cultural and societal issues that affect children’s everyday lives.


Anti-racist literary strategies Nationality Physical characteristics Language Exclusion Belonging 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of OuluOuluFinland

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