Values in Children's Literature: Recognition by Adults and Fifth Grade Children


This descriptive study investigated whether adults can identify and fifth grade children can recognize the values identified by Knafle, Westcott and Pascarella (1988) in a selection of books. The ten books that had won the Newbery Award or were named Honor Books and appeared on the Children's Choices List were selected for the adult analysis. Raters read and analyzed the ten books for decision points, points at which characters made a decision based on personal values. Decision points were analyzed for the values categories. Five of the ten books used in the adult analysis were chosen for the investigation of children's recognition of values. One of these books was chosen to pilot the questionnaire. Interviews from this book were not included in the data analysis. Each of the remaining four books were read by ten different children who were then interviewed using a revised questionnaire. Transcripts were made from audio tapes of the interviews and were analyzed for recognition of values identified by Knafle et al.(1988). The two sets of data, values categories from the adult analysis and values categories from the children's interviews, were collected and analyzed. Results indicated that adults could identify values categories from decision points in the ten books included, in the study. Analysis of the transcripts of children's interviews indicated that there appeared to be recognition by the children of the values considered in the study. Some values were recognized with more frequency than others, for example, Positive Behavior and Positive Feelings. Both the adult analysis and the analysis of children's interviews concurred that the books studied did contain positive values with more frequency than other values. More salient values as identified by the adults tended to be recognized with more frequency by the children. Adult analysis of the decision points indicated that values could be identified in the children's literature studied. Adult analysis of the interviews with children indicated that the children recognized values in the children's literature chosen for them to read. Similarities and differences were identified in a comparative analysis of the data.


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Graduation Date





Anderson, Betty


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education


Instructional Programs

Degree Program

Curriculum and Instruction




224 p.



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Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)




Dissertations, Academic -- Education; Education -- Dissertations, Academic

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