Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Dana L. Grisham, Chair; Barbara Moss, Kathleen M. Collins


Education, Children's literature, Critical literacy, Future teachers


Rooted in the work of the Frankfurt School and Paulo Freire, critical literacy transcends conventional notions of reading and writing—encouraging readers to adopt a questioning stance and to work toward changing themselves and their worlds. It also has foundations in the sociocultural theory of language, challenging readers to think about the relationship between language and power. However, contemporary educational environments, as well as popular opinion, do not generally encourage or tolerate overt questioning and criticism. Considering the propensity of educational institutions to perpetuate the status quo, we need to better understand how future teachers respond to and interpret children's literature. Specifically, whether they are potential practitioners of critical literacy or essentially unreflective readers, suggesting a predilection toward preserving existing dominant ideologies. Therefore, future elementary school teachers' written responses to children's literature (as well as individual interviews with seven students) were investigated in order to describe their current thinking about literature, using the following research questions: How do future teachers read and interpret children's literature? What do future teachers choose to focus on when they respond in writing to children's literature? As evidenced in their writing, to what degree do future teachers recognize stereotypes and underlying images in children's literature? Do they think about children's literature in a critical way that might lead to self-reflection? To what degree do future teachers adopt a stance of critical literacy?

Document Type

Dissertation: USD Users Only