Date of Award

Spring 5-2016

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

First Advisor

Danielle Forest

Advisor Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education


This study’s purpose was to research depictions of the middle social class in Magnolia Award nominees from the years 2013-2015. A flexible approach to qualitative content analysis that incorporated both deductive and inductive analysis was utilized to identify new frames, or portrayals, of middle class characters in this set of books. As a result of this analysis, several new frames of middle class characters were identified including young characters facing adult problems, being victims of teasing, and experiencing low levels of self-esteem. Additionally, a frame previously noted by Forest (2014b) that shows characters achieving upward mobility, or “rags-to-riches,” was found in this study. Moreover, the research revealed that a majority of protagonists in this set of books were middle class. This study is significant because it investigates how the middle class is depicted in books for young people, a topic that has been unstudied in children’s literature scholarship. The results are impactful for teachers because of the potential application of helping students across all social classes cope with issues which they struggle. Some recommendations for future research include the analysis of another popular children’s book award (possibly in another region of the country or country-wide), analyzing a different grade category of the Magnolia Award, and researching depictions of the middle class in popular television shows.