Fill inn: Analysis form
Print out: Brief information on the analysis strategies
Go to: Slides/presentation of the analysis strategies (under construction)
The website provides six analysis strategies or ways of analysing picture books and an analysis form to be filled in. The idea is that each day care student teacher or day care centre teacher may form an opinion about a picture book. Does it expand or confirm the traditional gender norm? You carry out the test or gender analysis by assuming these reader roles: “The Counter”, “The Norm Critic”, “The Picture Reader”, “The Queering Researcher”, “The Fortune Teller” and “The Child Researcher”. These represent different knowledge and academic disciplines used to analyse gender and equality.
To conclude with an opinion as to whether a picture book promotes or impedes equality between the genders, some of the strategies will be more useful than others. Particularly “The norm critic” and “The child researcher” will often be especially helpful.
Which types of children’s books are best suited for use with the analysis form and the analysis strategies?
- – An ordinary picture book
- – Aimed at children between one and six years of age
- – A leaflet/brochure with illustrations/pictures and text
- – A picture book app for tablets
The analysis strategies are not suitable for poems, nonsense verse and factual books.
Read the book, look at the pictures and answer the questions. If necessary, leaf through the book to answer a specific question. Use the answers as the basis for assessing whether the picture book expands or confirms traditional gender norms.
The background of the analysis strategies
The analysis strategies have been inspired by reading strategies that describe the different ways we read and understand a text. A competent reader masters, combines and alternates between various reading strategies. One of these is to read the heading and skim the text to make some hypotheses about what the text is about. Another role or strategy is to note down facts in the text, while a third reading strategy is to make personal internal mental images of the content of the text. Gender patterns can be read and analysed in a picture book in a similar way to how various strategies are used to understand the same text.
Quality ≠ Equality
The analysis strategies are tools for assessing equality between genders rather than the literary and artistic quality of picture books. If a book has been found to confirm traditional gender norms it may still be found to have high literary qualities, and therefore belonging to the diversity of literature that is available in the day care centre or the nursery. The reverse may also apply: a book may portray gender equality but as it has poor literary quality it is not selected.
A combination of quality and equality is desirable, and there are very many picture books from the Nordic countries which have high literary quality and expand traditional gender norms. Even though some of these books are presented on this resource website, the analysis strategies are not suited for such assessments, so these books are not highlighted here.
A diversity of genders and narratives
Rather than advocating the removal or banning of a book, the contributors to this website are spokespersons for diversity in literature for children, a diversity of genders and narratives, as well as a diversity of narratives and pictures relating to gender. In literature, children should encounter a diversity of ways of being a girl, a boy, a man and a woman.
However, children’s books that are clearly demeaning have no place in day care or a pedagogical institution, unless the demeaning content is explicitly addressed. (Some children’s books, especially of an earlier date, have offensive portraits of coloured people.)
On the other hand, the availability of diversity is not sufficient. Language and literature are vital elements in learning about gender, and the children will be exposed to gender stereotypes and other stereotypes. What are important is how the literature is presented and how the child makes use of it.
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