Original Proposal

Depictions of Religion in children’s Picture Books
How children are introduced to concepts of faith is a sensitive matter.
One approach used by both religious and secular organizations is
children’s literature, including children’s picture books. “Picture books”
are books for pre-schoolers. The books tell a story using illustrations
and few words. This paper offers an exploratory study of how religion
and spirituality are depicted in such literature. It makes use of a
sample of 150 titles from a larger collection of 21,000 picture books
published in the past 40 or more years. The intent of the study is to
introduce possible areas of more-detailed research into how religious
concepts are represented in picture books. Using subject descriptors
in the cataloguing records of the collection, concepts including the
following were identified as a means to selecting books with religious
content: spirituality, church, religion, death, god, and goddess.
The methodology employed is one of content analysis of words and
illustrations, with attention given to how treatment of the topic has
remained the same or changed over time.

Literature Review Proposal
Children as Users of Religious Information in Literature
Children represent a set people group in Taylor’s Information Use Environment theory (Taylor, 1991). Little research has been done on this people group, however. It is the intent of this article to apply IUEs to children’s religious literature to study how children access information, how the childhood setting impacts information use, and how children use religious information received from books. Children naturally have a lower education status, and so the problems associated with children’s use of information will be very different from those facing adults. Children have complex information needs, and religious themes represent a means for children to gain understanding and express frustration. Because most of the research on IUEs has been in connection with adults, this study will be unique by addressing children separately. The psychological makeup of children will be studied to determine information needs. The available religious literature will be studied to determine if the literature meets those needs. Particular attention will be paid to the depiction of religion in children’s picture books.
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