A Content Analysis of International Children’s Picture Books: Representation of Poverty

Hakan Dedeoğlu, Mustafa Ulusoy* and Linda L. Lamme***
*PhD, Hacettepe University Faculty of Education, TURKEY
**PhD, Gazi University Faculty of Education, TURKEY
***PhD, University of Florida College of Education, USA

Problem Statement: Although poverty affects all age groups, children are especially affected because they are dependent for their survival on adults. Many children from around the world feel the impact of poverty on their lives and the lives of their families and friends. Images of poverty found in books can influence children’s belief systems. Children’s visions of themselves, the world, and their place in the world have been greatly impacted by the literature. Picture books are useful tools for teaching many abstract and complex concepts of the social studies at the elementary level. Therefore, books about poverty create opportunities for adults and children to talk about some tough issues.
Purpose of Study: This study examined the text and images in 15 contemporary international children’s picture books published between 1970 and 2004, in order to discover the themes and messages conveyed in text and illustrations to describe the representations of poverty.
Methods: The research methodology for this study was qualitative content analysis that includes methods for data collection and analysis and descriptions of the books and illustrations.
Findings and Results: The books portray poverty in many ways: within a father’s absence, child labor, housing, daily life, barter system, life conditions and homelessness. Low national income (less-developed countries), social inequalities (homelessness and class system), inadequate employment opportunities, family debts, war, and drought were found as causes of poverty in international picture books.
Conclusions and Recommendations: Poverty is a problem in all countries including under-developed, developing, and developed nations. Societies encounter the poverty in different ways and to different degrees. It is clear that children can be affected in a higher degree by adults when they live in poverty. The analysis of these books reveals that while they provide valuable information about the experiences and the lives of people who live in poverty in international settings, they cannot be used alone to speak about the issues of poverty at a sophisticated level.
Keywords: Poverty, international children’s picture books, qualitative research, content analysis.