Family diversity in Australian picture books: the importance and benefits of exploring diverse family models

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Mokrzycki, Sarah Jayne (2021) Family diversity in Australian picture books: the importance and benefits of exploring diverse family models. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Diversity in children’s picture books is a topic that has received tremendous momentum in recent years. Movements like We Need Diverse Books show a rising social consciousness regarding the importance of diversity in children’s literature. However, the discussion of family diversity – both academically and creatively – remains an area that is often not considered. Picture books play a significant role in the lives of children, and the benefits of representation cannot be overstated (Mokrzycki 2019). Yet, overwhelmingly, picture book families remain ‘intact’ – the official term used by the Australian government for the two- parent family model. Thus, children from all other family types, like step and blended families, foster families, single parent and grandparent-led families, remain largely unrepresented. Furthermore, families diverse in culture, sexuality, identity, body and mind diversity are equally limited. This PhD by Creative Project responds to this problem by means of a creative work and accompanying exegesis. My creative work takes the form of an original illustrated picture book titled The rainbow cake, which centres on a diverse Polish- Australian family. The exegesis challenges preconceived notions of what makes a family ‘intact’, and examines the benefits family-diverse representation provides. It includes the analysis of 300 picture books (180 Australian and 120 International) to examine trends, patterns and gaps in family representation.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3602 Creative and professional writing
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4705 Literary studies
Current > Division/Research > College of Arts and Education
Keywords family diversity; picture books; diversity; children’s literature; Australia; creative work; exegesis; The rainbow cake; Australian family; family representation; literary theory; autoethnography; practice-led qualitative research
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