Date of Award

Fall 12-2016

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Library and Information Science

First Advisor

Stacy Creel

Advisor Department

Library and Information Science


This research project examined the presentation of traditional gender roles and representation in four books that were awarded the Newbery Medal. The four books that were examined are the award recipients from 1922, 1923, 2014 and 2015. It was predicted that as gender equality has become a more prominent issue, and men and women have become more equal, one would expect this change to be reflected in children’s literature. A close reading was performed of these works, and special attention was paid to how the authors present the genders of the main characters in terms of personal interests, the roles of the parents, and other criteria. There was a predominance of male characters and male interests in both older and newer books and some stereotypical elements of gender roles in both, but there were also indications of changes in the portrayal of gender roles in the two newer books – there was one female main character who exhibited both male and female interest and the parents in the two newest books exhibited some non-traditional activities and roles. While this study found evidence of some change in portrayal of gender roles, some stereotypical elements persist so the thesis is only partly supported.