Publication Date


Degree Granted


Institution Granting Degree

Pensacola Christian College


children’s literature, didacticism, secular education philosophy, traditional education philosophy, elementary


Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Psychology | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education


The purpose of this analysis was to identify trends in didactic children’s literature from the twentieth century to the present as influenced by secular educational philosophy. Using popularity and content research, ten books were sought from each decade beginning in the twentieth century and concluding with the beginning of the twenty-first century. These books were studied to determine what popular books didactically infer about society, culture, religion, gender, family, ecology, and controversial issues such as divorce, prejudice, violence, and physical intimacy. Using trend analysis of a homogeneous sampling of realistic American fiction, written in prose, for elementary readers in kindergarten through sixth grade, this study examined how secular educational philosophy influenced children’s literature throughout the twentieth century to the present. Examination of the results, in response to the purpose statement, delineated the full scope of the implications of this trend analysis and the necessary recommendations.

Didacticism has changed from a moral teaching method popularized by the Puritans to a medium for sociopolitical dogma. This study showed a correlation between progressive educational philosophy and trends in children’s literature regarding society and culture, religion, gender and family, ecology, and controversial issues in books from 1900 to 2003. Didacticism was used to forward secular philosophy that emphasizes moral relativism, behavioral autonomy, and global citizenship.

This trend analysis concluded that the dominance of progressive didacticism in children’s literature over the last forty years mandates Christian colleges and universities to provide increased literary teacher training, and for Christian schools around the country to change their library policies, provide administrative leadership, supervise classroom libraries, and help parents develop literary awareness. Literature can have a profound effect on a child; therefore, Christians must determine what that didactic influence will be.