Over the past fifty years, children’s picture books have made great strides toward literary equity by including more perspectives from and stories about marginalized groups, such as those whose gender identities do not conform to heteronormative standards. While texts featuring gender-variant male characters engage in topics that are far too often shoved into the proverbial closet, what is yet to be determined is the degree to which they adequately reflect the complexity of (gender) identity and to what extent such picture books can counter narratives related to traditional “masculinity.” The purpose of this paper is to critically examine picture book representations of gender variance, as exhibited by male characters, in order to determine the books’ potential for exploring issues of social justice with elementary-age students. This study utilizes a critical multiculturalist lens to challenge the ways in which gender variance is represented in children’s literature and the reasons that young gender-variant male protagonists achieve—or do not achieve—communal acceptance.
Children's Literature in Education – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 1, 2016
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