Graduate Research Papers


Open Access Graduate Research Paper


Becoming a person of character is an individual responsibility, yet society uses institutions and media to help guide future generations to obtain virtues and moral values. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the pillars of character depicted in children's literature published in the United States from 1950-1999 reflect the renewal in character education programs for schoolchildren.

A content analysis was used to analyze twenty-five best-selling children's picture books from 1950-1999 that were randomly selected to be in the sample population. This researcher looked for positive and negative instances of the six pillars, trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship, promoted by the character education program Character Counts! A primary pillar was also identified for each book when one was evident and given an intensity rating of very significant, significant, or not significant. Analysis of the data found that only 46% of the books in the study exhibited a primary pillar that was either very significant or significant thus refuting the first hypothesis that stated that the majority of the books would exhibit at least one of the six pillars. The second hypothesis stated that the books in the study published within the last twenty years would exhibit more total instances of pillars of character than those books published in the previous thirty years. Since 64% of the total instances of the pillars were found in the books published in the 1980s and 1990s, the second hypothesis was accepted. The final hypothesis stated that the majority of the identified instances of the pillars would be presented positively, yet the negative instances outnumbered the positive instances 2 to 1 thus rejecting the final hypothesis.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Curriculum and Instruction


Division of School Library Studies

First Advisor

Barbara R. Safford


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Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (v, 111 pages)