Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Personality Traits of Young Characters in Caldecott Award Winning Picture Books from Three Time Periods: 1950s, 1980s and 2000s
by Lear, Laury, Ph.D., Notre Dame of Maryland University, 2015, 228; 3706103
Abstract (Summary)

Educators have a responsibility to choose and share picture books with young children carefully, with a full understanding of the psychological, cultural and developmental potential that these books have for children. Picture books have a profound and lasting effect on children at a most impressionable age. Children identify with the characters in the picture books, sometimes through the personality of the characters, and that identification allows them to acquire ideas and emotions, conscious and unconscious, that promote developmental growth and teach social and cultural constructs.

This study employed a mixed methods research design using content analysis to describe the total personality of young characters in picture books from three decades: the 1950s, the 1980s, and the 2000s. This study looked for changes in the personalities of young characters in those time periods, including changes related to the gender of the characters.

This study found a consistent whole personality for the young characters in the picture books studied that can be described using the Big Five Personality Factors. There were statistically significant differences in the time periods for two of the Big Five Personality Factors. Although there were differences in personality between genders, those differences were not statistically significant.

Significant differences in the personality factors of extroversion and openness to experience in the time periods studied may be related to changes in society that have impacted the lives of children. The use of media, especially television, had exploded into the lives of children in the time periods studied. The relationship between children and nature had changed over the time periods.

Children may need adult intervention in terms of providing context, literary analysis, and discussion when reading picture books. Educators using picture books in instruction may need to carefully consider cultural standards, cultural ideals, and cultural change reflected in the books as part of instructional planning. Educational researchers need to examine the whole personality of characters in picture books so that the findings of their studies may inform and influence those in the home and the school using this powerful tool to help our children achieve their potential.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bull, Kelly B.
Commitee: Fenster, Mark, Sattler, Joan
School: Notre Dame of Maryland University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- Maryland
Source: DAI-A 76/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Library science, Early childhood education, Literacy, Reading instruction
Keywords: Changes in children's literature, Changes in children's literature with rise of television, Children's literature, Gender bias in children's literature, Nature deficit disorder, Personality traits in children's literature
Publication Number: 3706103
ISBN: 978-1-321-79590-5
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