Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type


Director of Thesis

Dianne Johnson-Feelings

First Reader

Elizabeth Myers

Second Reader

Valerie Byrd-Fort


This thesis is the amalgamation of a creative writing project and an exploration of the ways that children’s literature influences and draws from social justice causes. It started after reading Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls and realizing that children’s books are not as simple as I remember them being. This book inspired me to consider the power of children’s literature to push young readers to be aware of and thoughtfully engaged with political, social and cultural conversations. The first phase of my thesis was exploring the relationship between social justice and children’s books by reading scholarly materials. In these materials and through experiences in an English course about children’s literature, I gained a better sense for the field and a foundation in the concepts and trends that are prevalent in books. The next phase was reading a broad selection of children’s books that are characterized by a message related to a social issue. These books were selected from many sources; librarian recommendations, scholarly article references, news articles and awards lists. I read books that addressed issues such as sexuality, gender identity, race relations, drug use, immigration and mental health. In my reading, I tried to cover a diverse spread of books, ones from varying publication years and written in varying structures.

The books were both a source of information and inspiration that lead to the final phase of my project, creating my own children’s book. In this phase, I focused on writing a story dedicated to feminist themes and I explored different styles and forms for the story. With the feedback of my directors and second reader, and the support of a friend with artistic skills, I came to the final stage where I have a manuscript of a children’s book and a few sample illustrations. Each phase was a stepping stone to the next phase and ultimately the project has built upon itself to result in a better understanding of how impactful children’s literature is on social justice. With this thesis, I have demonstrated the power children’s books have to give children an honest and thought-provoking perspective on the world they will grow up in.

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© 2019, Lyndsey Reynolds