A Thematic Content Analysis of Children’s Picture Books that Portray Fairness

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Zhang, Shuo
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Mount Saint Vincent University
Considering the essential role fairness plays in the early years and the powerful impacts of picture books on young children, it is necessary the understand how fairness is portrayed in children’s picture books, and how this small sample of picture books might inform children’s understanding of fairness and how it relates to children’s moral compass in relation to their rights and agency. The thematic content analysis is adopted as the research method. This study is based on three children’s picture books that were published over 50-year periods. This research examined the depiction of fairness in those books, addressing questions about how fairness is portrayed, the embedded messages in the depiction of fairness, and whose perspective is represented. This research explored perspectives including Kohlberg’s moral development theory and Gilligan’s ethic of care. Although Kohlberg’s theory explains some aspects of children’s moral reasoning, it undermines children’s agency and puts them in a morally deficient position. This research advocates for the care perspective and children’s agency in their morality development. Recommendations, limitations, and suggestions are included.