Developing critical literacy skills is a major challenge for teachers who are preparing students for a world that is saturated with information. A major part of the challenge is to show students how text, in all its forms, carries subtle messages regarding relationships of power, often justifying social inequities. Many researchers suggest that by integrating critical literacy into daily classroom activities, teachers can help students understand how texts are constructed and how authors are able to influence their understanding of the world.
Children’s literature is an ideal resource for helping children develop critical literacy skills because it encompasses tales, poetry, novels, comic strips, documentaries and activity books for a diverse range of learners. Further, as Morgan argues, books for children of all ages are infused with the cultural values of society and contribute to the transmission of ideologies from one generation to the next. Given that equality of the sexes is one of the foundations of our democractic society, it is important to support students in developing their critical literacy skills by considering the values and ideologies inherent in the representations of femininity and masculinity in books written for children.