Exploring Issues of Disability in Children's Literature Discussions

Donna Sayers Adomat


In this qualitative study, the author uses the theoretical lens of disability studies to examine how children in two multiage classrooms examine issues of disability through conversations during read-aloud and literature circle discussions. In this study, the author looks at how children build positive understandings of disability from children’s literature but also how societal attitudes, beliefs, and stereotypes might play into their interpretations of literature. Student’s talk before, during, and after literature discussions was audio- and videorecorded. Several themes emerged from a discourse analysis of the transcriptions, including: defining disabilities, questioning and critiquing notions of normalcy; idealizing disabilities; identifying with characters; developing an advocacy stance; and using imagination to open up perspectives towards people in the real world. Through exploring characters in books, children not only learned about various disabilities, but they came to understand characters with disabilities as full and complex beings, similar in many ways to themselves.


Keywords: children's literature, literature discussions, disability studies, elementary education, qualitative research

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v34i3.3865

Copyright (c) 2014 Donna Sayers Adomat

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