Children learn many things from the books they read, and some of the most important lessons books teach are the sociocultural norms of society and whose space it is. These lessons are conveyed, in part, through the representation of different characters. In a new BFI Working Paper, “What We Teach About Race and Gender: Representation in Images and Text of Children’s Books,” Harris Public Policy’s Anjali Adukia and co-authors showcase how novel computer-driven tools can help systematically measure the messages children encounter in books.
This research has important implications for educators and publishers, and others concerned about the influence of books on childhood development. In addition, the authors’ methodology offers the promise of innovative investigations into other forms of text and visual media, including all types of literature and nonfiction, journalism, websites, art, photography, television, videos, movies, and many others.