London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Characters with special needs in the contemporary children's books: The role of education in community building versus social stereotypes

Author(s) Kotopoulos, T., Alevriadou, A., Vamvakidou, I. & Michailidis, E.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2012  
Editor P. Cunningham & N. Fretwell (eds.) Creating Communities: Local, National and Global  
Age group -  
Literary books for children and adolescents help promote certain attitudes, values and forms of behaviour; to all intents and purposes they constitute a very important form of social and cultural education. This paper studies the representations of characters with disabilities in 28 Children's Literature books and examines their ideological position with regard to contemporary depictions of infirmity. Indeed, children’s books may well reinforce negative or inaccurate beliefs and stereotypes on disability, perpetuating any stigma against people with disabilities in the process. The methodology used is that of Roger Forster’s ‘typology of characters,’ modified and supplemented by the more recent work of Maria Nikolajeva, Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, and Raymond Jones. Our results show that many of the books, dating from the first decade of the twenty-first century continue to reproduce stereotypes on disability instead of subverting them. The analysis is focused on the social context of these narrations in order to reveal the relation between the characters of people with Special Needs and educational citizenship. Keywords: special needs, character, children’s literature, educational citizenship.

Back to search results


   Page last updated 09 March 2011