Faculty Publications

Representations Of Play In Caldecott Medal And Honor Books During 1938-1949 And 2001-2014

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Rulers of Literary Playgrounds: Politics of Intergenerational Play in Children's Literature

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This study examines the illustrative and textual aspects of the representations of play in Caldecott Medal and Honor books, with special attention given to discovering how the portrayal of play has evolved over time and the pattern of any significant change. To answer these questions, our sample consists of 103 picture books chosen as Caldecott Medal or Honor books within the first 11 years of the award (56 books) and 11 recent years of the award (47 books). The findings of this study show that in recent years, Caldecott Medal and Honor books have given less attention to outdoor social play and more attention to indoor solitary play. Furthermore, the results suggest that in the most recent Caldecott literature there is a growing interest in creating playful text and pictures instead of representing characters playing. Based on the results of our study, today’s children are exposed to relatively few images of characters playing and even fewer images of characters interacting with each other. In contrast, there is a significant increase in “multimodal” (Nikolajeva 27) books with nonlinear and more complex storylines both in text and pictures. The “metafictional” (Nikolajeva 35) content of contemporary Caldecott books demands more sophisticated readers and suggests that reading is not always a straightforward process. Creative reading of some of these medal and honor books necessitates not only readers but participants who find themselves engaged in exploring dynamic activities and discovering new environments.


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

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UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa