The use of children's literature to promote anti-bias education: A transactional study of teachers' use and student response

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Donald J. Leu


children's literature, teachers' use and student response

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Elementary Education and Teaching


This qualitative study explores the transactions that occur among teachers, students, and children's literature when that literature is used to promote anti-bias education. The study is based upon the concept of literary transaction as discussed by Rosenblatt (1978; 1985) and the concept of anti-bias education (Derman-Sparks & The A.B.C. Task Force, 1989) which may help people "deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world" (Friere, 1970, p. 15). In looking at children's literature as a way to promote anti-bias education, five elementary teachers and their students in grades 4-6 were observed for several months. In-depth interviews were also conducted to collect data regarding specific literary events within the classroom.

The methodology developed for this study is a transactional ethnography, a research strategy that examines specific routine events through the transactions that comprise such events. Literary events, which focus upon a teacher's use of a specific children's book and student response to that use and to that text, are the routine events at the center of this exploration. The transactional ethnography used in this study considers the sociocultural context of the literary event as one co-created by both teachers and students, and one which is constantly evolving.

The findings of this study suggest that the concept of transaction is embedded in the notion of the classroom community affecting and being affected by a teacher's specific use of literature which includes book selection and teaching strategies. This reciprocal nature allows these elements to transact with one another as teachers play out their social agendas which may address anti-bias education. The implications of this study are addressed in the following areas: expanding the notion of reader response; reconsidering teacher actions and student responses; integrating anti-bias education with the curriculum; and creating a new vision for teacher preparation programs. These implications provide important insights for us to consider as we develop better theoretical perspectives, new research questions, and more appropriate teacher preparation programs which support the increasingly diverse nature of our society.


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