This study examines gender representation in first grade basal readers. Basal readers provide a representative sample of materials children are exposed to while reading. A content analysis is conducted on the illustrations and texts found in first grade basal readers from the Silver Burdett Ginn (1993), Houghton Mifflin (2005), and Macmillan McGraw-Hill (2007) publishing companies. The study examines the number of female and male characters, the types of characteristics female and male main characters portray, and the depiction of adult characters in basal readers. Sex-Role Socialization and Sex-Role Theory, Doing Gender Theory, and Gender as Structure Theory are applied to the data collected in the study. These theoretical models provided a framework for analyzing how gender representation in basal readers is affected by society and how it affects society. I found that males continue to be the dominant gender portrayed in basal readers. However, female characters are depicted with both traditional and non-traditional characteristics, while males are limited to more traditionally masculine traits. Adults are most often found in traditional roles. Future studies are suggested for the continuation of analysis of gender representation in children's literature to maintain awareness of the social factors children are exposed to while reading.


Gunn, Raymond


Sociology and Anthropology


Gender and Sexuality | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2009 Annie Hargleroad