Study: Children’s Books Reinforce Stereotypes

Children’s books are stuck in the past. So says sociologist Amy Dewitt, one of the authors of the new study Parental Role Portrayals in Twentieth Century Children's Picture Books: More Egalitarian or Ongoing Stereotyping? DeWitt and her team surveyed 300 picture books from throughout the 20th century, finding that “mothers are much more likely to be portrayed nurturing and caring for children, and men are more likely to work outside of the home.” Surprisingly, the books published as late as 2000 displayed no statistically significant improvement in this area. DeWitt concluded that even in the modern era, “storybook characters often inhabit a bygone, male breadwinner-female homemaker era.”