Graduate Program

Elementary Education

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

John H. Bickford III


This study provides insight into the presence of special populations in trade books. Special populations are defined as a population that has been assigned a label for the sake of educational interventions; in this case, special populations refer to thirteen categories of disability as well as English Language Learners. Past winners of the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award were analyzed for the presence of special populations, how special populations were portrayed, and any significant patterns over time regarding the presence of special populations. Results indicated a lack of characters belonging to special populations, characters in a special population most often being portrayed in a negative manner, and minimal findings in regards to the portrayal over time. The books analyzed contained well over 300 characters in all; however, only a limited number could be labeled as a member of a special population. Oftentimes, characters that were classified in special population were the villain or viewed as lesser members of society. Limitations and implications are also addressed.