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I see you. Do you see me? Investigating the representation of diversity in prize winning Australian early childhood picture books

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This paper investigates the visual and verbal representation of diversity in Australian early childhood picture books, focusing on those that have been shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Early Childhood Book of the Year award (2001–2020). Educators at all levels draw on award lists to help create their reading lists and build their library collections. For early childhood to kindergarten educators, these selections are principally picture books. Picture books are significant for the cultural messages and values they convey about society, and for helping children learn about their world. How diverse that world is impacts on a child’s sense of belonging and inclusion. Using content analysis, this study demonstrates the extent to which the story worlds in the CBCA award winning early childhood picture books may be considered a source of diversity for young Australian readers.

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Data Availability

Our coding manual and full results tables will be provided through the OpenScience Framework: URL will be provided following review.


  1. In 2002, there were 4 books in the shortlist: 1 Winner, 2 Honour books and 1 Shortlisted.

  2. Throughout the paper we use the term ‘award winners/winning’ to signify all shortlisted books: Winner, Honour and Shortlisted. Making the shortlist brings great privilege and exposure thus we include those shortlisted as ‘winning’ books.

  3. We distinguish between authors (producers of the verbal component of the book), illustrators (producers of the visual component of the book), and author-illustrators (who produce both verbal and visual components of the book).

  4. We provide full tables of results on our Open Science Framework page:

  5. The full list of coding categories along with definitions and examples are available in an online appendix hosted at Open Science Framework:

  6. An Indigenous language spoken by the people of Gunbalanya, Arnhem Land, Australia.


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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by Helen Caple and Ping Tian. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Helen Caple and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ping Tian.

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Caple, H., Tian, P. I see you. Do you see me? Investigating the representation of diversity in prize winning Australian early childhood picture books. Aust. Educ. Res. 49, 175–191 (2022).

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