Gender positioning in children’s books: A visual analysis

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


One of the external factors that can influence a child’s gender role development is the books they read. According to the transportation theory, when encountering a text, a child may be transported into the world created by the book author and construct his/her identity. In addition to the textual content, the visual depiction of males and females is especially important in children’s books as they contain a large number of pictures. Female and male characters can be positioned, textually and visually, as “inferior”, “dominant”, “weak” or “strong”. The aim of this study is to raise the awareness of educators and parents on how gender ideologies are being packaged to them and young learners through visual images. The investigation included an analysis of 60 English readers selected from the Reading to Learn across the Curriculum Book List for Key Stage 1 (i.e. Primary 1–3), recommended by the Education Bureau of Hong Kong. A range of variables in relation to visual representation was analysed, including the visual appearance of male and female characters and their proportion in each picture, the roles and activities they perform, the location of their appearance, the clothes worn and the major colours of their clothing. The findings recorded significant differences in the visual portrayal of male and female characters, which signifies a strong need to provide teachers and parents with support to avoid reinforcing gender inequalities in early readers when they read to young learners. Copyright © 2019 ECLL.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019
EventThe 7th European Conference on Language Learning (ECLL2019) : Independence & Interdependence - University of London & University College London, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 19 Jul 201921 Jul 2019


ConferenceThe 7th European Conference on Language Learning (ECLL2019) : Independence & Interdependence
Abbreviated titleECLL2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


Lee, J. F. K., & Chin, A. C. O. (2019, July). Gender positioning in children’s books: A visual analysis. Paper presented at The 7th European Conference on Language Learning, London, UK.


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