Graduate Research Papers


Open Access Graduate Research Paper


Throughout their daily lives, students continuously make connections between themselves and their world, which aids in constructing meaning, strengthening understanding, and facilitating empathy toward others. The purpose of this qualitative content analysis is to ascertain the extent to which diverse family dynamics are represented within books nominated by students for consideration of the 2019-2020 Iowa Children’s Choice Award. The research questions addressed in this study include: What is the extent of representation regarding diverse family dynamics within books nominated by students for consideration of the 2019-2020 Iowa Children’s Choice Award book award, and how human families are portrayed. All fifteen novels containing human families were analyzed using a chart developed and adapted from studies by Despain, 2012; Goddard & Grant, 2009; and Randolph, 2013, which focused on first identifying what type of family unit was present in each novel, and then to what extent these relationships are portrayed. This study utilizes qualitative content analysis to identify the type of family unit portrayed in each work resulting in the discovery of emergent themes pertaining to personal challenges originating within the family unit, personal challenges encountered outside of the family unit, and gender roles of single parental figures within the text. From this study, three themes emerged: personal challenges originating within family structure, personal challenges originating outside of family structure, and gender trends within the single parental/guardian roles. The researcher concluded that (1) given the source of this sampling of books, an adequate amount of diverse family units were demonstrated, and (2) the majority of strong, supportive, and independent adult figures within these family units were female.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Curriculum and Instruction


Division of School Library Studies

First Advisor

Karla Krueger, Graduate Faculty First Reader

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (77 leaves)



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