The Portrayal of African American Characters in Award Winning Picture Books from 2006-2016: A Content Analysis

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Supervision, Curriculum, and Instruction-Elementary Education

Date of Award

Spring 2022


Children’s picture books are introduced to children during their foundational years and is often a child’s first exposure to culture. It is imperative that those depictions are authentic portrayals of African American culture. This study is a replication of Ussery’s 2006 analysis of the characterization of African American characters in award winning picture books from 1996 to 2005. The purpose of this study was to add to the literature by examining children’s picture books from 2006 through 2016 and analyzing the changes since the conclusion of Ussery’s 2006 study.The predetermined criteria were (a) all characters or the protagonist must be African American, (b) each book had to be an African American children’s picture book, and (c) each book had to have been awarded the distinguished Caldecott Medal and/or Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award or be noted as honor books from 2006 to 2016. There were 116 titles of award winners for Caldecott Medal and Coretta Scott King from 2006 through 2016 collected. Following the prequalification process, 42 samples qualified. The researcher used the evaluation criteria tool which consisted of nine questions. It was determined from the study that African Americans were portrayed in written text and illustrations in most the children’s picture books awarded the Coretta Scott King Award and Honor books and the prominent Caldecott Medal and Honor books from 1996-2005 to 2006-2016. Social issues and problems were portrayed accurately at least 69% of the time with 31% of the books being categorized as not applicable due to no problems being present. In order to add to the research, the researcher also compared the findings of the replicated 2006 study to the present findings to analyze changes if any. There were some categories that remained the same. The researcher noted there were more books that fell in the not applicable category due to authors not having social issues, problems, or even White characters present in their works.


David Brown

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Educational Administration and Supervision