Children’s Critical Reflections on Gender and Beauty Through Responsive Play in the Classroom Context

Abstract

This qualitative, 8-month study analyzed first-grade children’s playful responses to literature in the classroom context. The broad purpose of this research was to investigate the ways that children construct meaning as they respond to literature through play as a form of reader response. The findings presented in this paper highlight the ways the children interpreted and reflected upon body image and ideals of beauty and the ways in which they enacted/performed gender and gender roles as they responded to literature through play. These findings suggest that, as critical readers of texts, children demonstrate great depth in their explorations and analyses of gender and beauty through their responsive play, that the potential for play as a form of reader response is immense, and that the intersection of responsive play and young children’s critical literacies requires further investigation, in and out of the classroom setting.

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Acknowledgements

Dr. Flint would like to thank the children who graciously shared their insightful reflections and thoughts throughout this study.

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Correspondence to Tori K. Flint.

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Flint, T.K. Children’s Critical Reflections on Gender and Beauty Through Responsive Play in the Classroom Context. Early Childhood Educ J 48, 739–749 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-020-01039-3

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Keywords

  • Beauty
  • Children's literature
  • Gender
  • Play
  • Reader response