Department

School of Education

Degree

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Chair

Karen Parker

Primary Subject Area

Education, General; Education, Language and Literature; Education, Religious; Education, Teacher Training; Literature, English; Religion, Biblical Studies

Keywords

Education, Teacher Education, Teaching and Learning

Disciplines

Biblical Studies | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | English Language and Literature | Ethics in Religion | Liberal Studies | Teacher Education and Professional Development

Abstract

Content analysis was conducted to determine the frequency of the presence of positive Biblical virtues and paired opposite traits across 18 Newbery Medal books from the 1920s through the 2000s because the Newbery Award is a prestigious honor bestowed upon children's literature, and the criteria for selection among books specifically precludes the necessity of good character. The fruit of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22 served as the rubric by which the characters' thoughts, dialogue, and actions were measured. Consensus data was recorded, and chi-square tests of independence were conducted after three readers examined the presence and frequency of each positive Biblical virtue and paired opposite trait. The researcher found that, with few exceptions, Newbery Medal books depict a greater frequency of opposite traits as opposed to positive Biblical virtues. The opposite traits most prevalent include: sorrow, worry, impatience, cruelty, immorality, and violence. The positive Biblical virtues frequently portrayed include: love, faithfulness, and self-control. Among the 18 Newbery Medal books examined, the readers determined that six books are entirely appropriate for young readers, seven of the books are more appropriate for an adolescent audience, and five of the books were found to be inappropriate for children and/or adolescents based on the graphic nature of the content. The moral development and reasoning of children and adolescents must be acknowledged as educators select literature for students. It is counterproductive to marginalize the paramount nature of didactic content given the necessity of promoting good character among this nation's youth. The researcher suggests that the American Library Association carefully examine their definition of the term "child" as it relates to moral growth. A new system of classification of Newbery Medal books has been proposed as a result of the study.