University of New Hampshire
Mentor: Dr. Laura Smith, Department of English
The Relationship Between Multicultural Representation In Children's Literature And Reading Practices Of Young Adults
Students of color – anyone of non-European descent, including non-white Hispanics – are found to read noticeably less than their white counterparts in the United States, and this literacy gap continues to affect American students as they mature into adulthood. This research project will explore the possible relationship between this reading disparity and the minute number of children’s books featuring protagonists of color. Similar studies have shown that a child’s ability to connect with the characters in the books they read influences how interested they are in the books they’re reading, and possibly affects their reading practices. This study will further delve into this idea by interviewing both students of color and white students on the University of New Hampshire’s campus about their current reading practices and their childhood reading experiences. The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between the connections a young adult made with any children’s books and how much they currently read. Through analyzing transcriptions of the interviews, this relationship will be further examined with the hopes of better understanding the effect that multicultural representation in children’s books has on reading practices. The results of this study could influence the way that reading lists are chosen in schools as well as the importance that teachers, parents, and publishers place on diversifying the genre of children’s literature.