Representation in Children’s Book Council of Australia Early Childhood and Picture Book Awarded Books (2018-2020)
Keywords:picture books, diversity, inclusion, gender, Australian children's literature
The call for more diversity in children’s literature has increased over the past decade. Many researchers draw on Rudine Sims Bishop’s theory of Windows, Mirrors, and Sliding Glass Doors (1990) to argue that children need to be able to see their lives reflected in the media they consume, not just as caricatures or tokenistic characters, but as protagonists and everyday people. The prizing of children’s literature acts as a stamp of approval for what is considered quality literature, and often results in an undiscerning market that purchases texts simply because of their awarded prize. The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year award is one of the most prestigious literary awards available in the country, particularly for younger readers. This critical content analysis examines the winners, honoured, and short-listed texts for the Book of the Year awards in the Picture Book and Early Childhood categories for the years 2018-2020. The analysis found that the majority of the texts reinforce the current social and cultural discourse of the straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied male. Given the social and cultural impact of the CBCA awards, it is essential that the discourses and ways of being that are represented in the awarded texts are critically investigated to ensure they are representative of their readership and do not perpetuate a damaging message to readers about their or others’ identity.
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