Looking Beyond the Pages: Representations of Culture in Storybook Choice in Second Grade
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Children’s storybooks serve a vital need in the classroom, library, and home life. The main connection between children’s literature and our outside world is that books mirror a society’s values and how the culture is perceived by different groups within our society. Thus, it is important for our society to become aware of how culture is portrayed in children’s literature, and to become conscious of negative reinforcements such as biased, stereotypical and racist portrayals sometimes taught in our schools. In this paper, I interviewed a class of second graders in a predominantly white rural college town in eastern Washington State. I analyzed thirty-two books that represent the top three choices of each of the second graders interviewed. The analysis focused on the culture and values of main characters, the quality of the literature, and why second graders chose to read these particular books.