ERIC Number: ED328884
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Dec
Reference Count: N/A
What Are the Religious/Spiritual Values in Children's Books? Do Children Get the Values Messages?
Sullivan, Emilie P.; Yandell, Carol
A study investigated the religious and spiritual values in selected children's books. A second study investigated children's comprehension of the values messages. Thirty realistic fiction books which won, or were honor books for, the John Newbery Medals for 1974-1988 were selected. A modified version of the Values Category Scale was developed and included five categories: negative religious, non-religious, humanistic, Christian-Judeo religious, and other religious. A panel of 5 experts in children's literature, 3 educational library media specialists, and 2 children's literature professors read and independently evaluated all 30 books. Results indicated that 24 of the books had non-religious content while only 7 of the books had Christian-Judeo content exceeding 25%. Results also indicted that historical fiction works were more likely to contain religious values than contemporary fiction works. In the second study, 8 children's librarians in northwest Arkansas selected a total of 29 Newbery Award books and identified specific spiritual values in those books. Thirty-five third- through sixth-grade students voluntarily read a total of 21 of the titles chosen by the librarians. The students were then interviewed to discover what spiritual values they recognized and if they identified the same values as the librarians. Results indicated that (1) the librarians and the children were able to identify a wide range of spiritual values in the books; (2) librarians chose stories emphasizing family relationships, love of parents, family unity, or the need for children to experience a loving and supportive, traditional or non-traditional, family unit; and (3) in those books conveying spiritual values which adults interpret as having religious significance, child readers focused only on the value in a non-religious connotation. (Eight tables of data are included; 37 references are attached.) (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Newbery Award; Spiritual Values
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Reading Forum (11th, Sarasota, FL, December 12-15, 1990).