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ERIC Number: EJ1246563
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 28
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1927-6117
Patterns in Contemporary Canadian Picture Books: Radical Change in Action
Brenna, Beverley; Sun, Shuwen; Liu, Yina
in education, v23 n2 p43-70 Aut 2017
This comprehensive qualitative examination of two groups of Canadian picture books, 57 titles published in 2005 and 120 titles published in 2015, offers comparative data that demonstrate patterns related to authors, illustrators, characterization, genres, audiences, and particular elements of "Radical Change", Dresang's (1999) notion that books for children are evolving with respect to forms and formats, perspectives, and boundaries. The study was intended to support classroom research and classroom practice, as well as explore definitions of "radical" in light of this sample of current children's literature. Our process for analysis was developed from Berg's (2009) framework of systematic content analysis based on predetermined as well as emerging categories. There is much recent research exploring particular content in children's literature, supporting the central importance of literature in the classroom and community. Comparative Canadian studies across decades, however, are rare, and are increasingly important as a way to track and describe the changes that are taking place with respect to books for young people. It is interesting that in both 2005 and 2015, picture books tended to feature children as protagonists, with the highest number of books from the 2005 set utilizing the fantasy genre (at 34%) or realistic fiction (at 28%) and the highest number of books from the 2015 set occurring in non-fiction (at 34%, up from 16% in 2005) or fantasy (at 31%). Historical fiction in both years presented comparatively low, at 12% and 3%, respectively. Findings of this study support and extend the notion of Radical Change (Dresang, 1999). The research team noted marked innovations within the 2015 group related to forms and formats, perspectives, and boundaries. Of particular note are the increasing numbers of books that present Indigenous content and perspectives. While many of the changes appearing in Canadian picture books between 2005 and 2015 might be predicted through the standard categories of Radical Change, other findings emerged that suggest an expanded definition of radical. Continuing to examine children's literature as artifacts of a culture can illuminate particular aspects of that culture and offer opportunities to engage authors, illustrators, and publishers in filling gaps where particular perspectives or topics are missing. Advocacy is important as children's literature continues to be a source of tension for what it portrays and presents as well as its missing voices. A knowledge of patterns and trends in relation to available content and resources supports classroom practice as well as encourages classroom research and further explorations of the evolving landscape of children's books.
University of Regina, Faculty of Education. Education Building, 3737 Wascana Parkway, Regina, SK S4S 0A2. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A