Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This study attempted to determine the accurateness of the representation of the Hispanic culture in children’s books. I interviewed ten people: five non-Hispanic and five Hispanic, and I found that the Hispanic people do not seem to pay as much attention to physical features as non-Hispanic people do. However, they were concerned about the portrayal of the Hispanic culture in traditional ways: the traditional roles of women, the traditional dress, the architecture of the houses and the portrayal of the Hispanic people living in rural areas and being extremely poor. It appears that from the timeline covered by the books, from the 1930’s until the present time that the more recent the publication, the more accurate the portrayal of the Hispanic culture becomes. In recent years, we see more books in the literature that portray characters from the Hispanic culture as middle class citizens living in cities rather than people living in rural areas doing agriculture based jobs. The results from this study confirm my own perceptions of the portrayal of the Hispanic culture in children’s books. To support this statement I can refer to Hamel (1993), who explains the notion called initial theory. This means that any researcher can have an initial idea of the perceived social phenomenon. In my specific case, this has come from the years studying and working as a librarian where I have had a wide exposure to books and people from diverse origins. As the participants were going through the books, they were distinguishing more details and becoming more aware of their own perceptions and the details in the books that supported their perceptions. They became more aware of the stereotypes and of the way the culture was represented. An important aspect to point out is that the authors of more recent books like “Too Many Tamales,” “Abuela,” or “Chato and the Party Animals” are authors who have lived in the United States for a long time, so they are setting their stories in this country. This aspect can be absolutely helpful if we consider that these books have been created for use in the United States. Therefore, children and readers in the United States will identify more with the characters and settings. Consequently, they will feel the pride and may wish to continue their traditions. At the same time, children will be able to establish comparisons and differences with other ethnic groups; and other children can learn about the Hispanic culture.
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Gomez, Nancy, "Perceptions of stereotypes in Hispanic children's literature" (2003). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 3774.