Date on Honors Thesis



Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Jessica Branch, Advisor

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Mi-Hwa Park, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Kimberly Vigil, Committee Member


The theme of gender roles is present in many genres of literature. In early children’s literature, the vast majority of these stories portray the most common gender stereotypes, such as girls who wear pink and play with dolls, while boys wear blue and play with cars and trucks. The families’ roles are also seen in these books. For example, the mother figure is usually seen at home with the children, working in the kitchen or outside in the garden, while the father is often portrayed coming home from a long day of work in a suit and tie. These gender roles are consistently depicted in similar ways throughout preschool and kindergarten literature. Early childhood is a critical period to establish self-concept and gender roles, therefore, it is important to examine how gender roles are described in children’s books. I collected and analyzed data from the Murray State University Curriculum Materials Center using the constant comparative method. The books analyzed were all written for emergent readers, which refers to children ages 3 to 6 years old. Qualitative data regarding the various themes found in the literature were analyzed as well as the quantitative data regarding the number of times each theme is found in the books. These data were used to determine the strengths and weaknesses of children’s books as they pertain to gender and gender roles, as well as to help answer the questions such as ‘what are the most common character genders found in children’s book illustrations from the Theodore Seuss Geisel award? Do these genders follow gender stereotypes?