The human-environment dialog in award-winning children's picture books

J. Allen Williams, Christopher Podeschi, Nathan Palmer, Philip Schwadel, Deanna Meyler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Picture books often play an important role in childhood socialization. Given the seriousness of environmental problems, we ask how natural, modified, and built environments have been portrayed in children's books. To answer this question, we analyze the 296 books receiving Caldecott awards from 1938 to 2008. Two possibilities are explored with respect to content change. Growing concern about critical environmental problems, such as decline in biodiversity and deforestation, may have led to an increase in illustrations and stories about wild animals and the natural environment. Alternatively, the increasing isolation of people from the natural world may have resulted in a decline in the perceived relevance of these environmental issues and resulted in fewer stories and depictions. Our findings support the isolation hypothesis. There have been significant declines in depictions of natural environments and animals while built environments have become much more common. These findings suggest that today's generation of children are not being socialized, at least through this source, toward an understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the place of humans within it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-159
Number of pages15
JournalSociological Inquiry
Volume82
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2012

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book
environment
child
environmental impact
social isolation
picture
animal
human being
biodiversity
socialization
childhood
dialogue
generation
relevance
hypothesis
content
understanding
people

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

The human-environment dialog in award-winning children's picture books. / Williams, J. Allen; Podeschi, Christopher; Palmer, Nathan; Schwadel, Philip; Meyler, Deanna.

In: Sociological Inquiry, Vol. 82, No. 1, 02.2012, p. 145-159.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Williams, JA, Podeschi, C, Palmer, N, Schwadel, P & Meyler, D 2012, 'The human-environment dialog in award-winning children's picture books' Sociological Inquiry, vol 82, no. 1, pp. 145-159. DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-682X.2011.00399.x
Williams JA, Podeschi C, Palmer N, Schwadel P, Meyler D. The human-environment dialog in award-winning children's picture books. Sociological Inquiry. 2012 Feb;82(1):145-159. Available from, DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-682X.2011.00399.x

Williams, J. Allen; Podeschi, Christopher; Palmer, Nathan; Schwadel, Philip; Meyler, Deanna / The human-environment dialog in award-winning children's picture books.

In: Sociological Inquiry, Vol. 82, No. 1, 02.2012, p. 145-159.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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