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Reading straight : an examination of heteronormativity in children's literature

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posted on 2021-06-08, 11:20 authored by Tricia Michelle Dumais
Diversity in ignored in many early childhood education settings, especially sexual diversity. The purpose of this study is to determine if children's literature in early childhood education settings represents diversity. Because identity is interconnected, this study includes an exploration of individual aspects of identity such as gender, sexuality, race, class, age, body size and ability. One hundred and nine books from four childcare classrooms were analyzed to investigate the representation of diversity in children's literature. A qualitative queer critique of two of the titles from this study supplemented the competing yet inadequate findings of the quantitative research. Results showed that beyond moderate representation racial diversity, the literature examined failed to represent significant diversity of sexuality, class, age, body size, and ability. Through the analysis of children's books it was found that oppression exists in the form of omission. Research from supplementary queer critiques of two titles showed that each book is heteronormative in nature and that one of the books may be deemed homotolerant as it positioned heterosexuality as 'normal,' represented sexuality as private, failed to celebrate difference, and failed to challenge essentialism. The findings of this study may be significant for initiating a dialogue among early childhood professionals to promote a celebration of difference.





Master of Arts


Early Childhood Studies

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type


Thesis Advisor

Rachel Langford