Something Beautiful: Social Justice, Empathy, and Cultural Competence in Children’s Books

Time Frame



  • Nicole A. Cooke

Picture books, such as those in the Marantz Collection (Kent State University’s School of Library and Information Science), play an important role in developing literacy in our library users—from traditional literacy (as it relates to reading), to visual literacy, to cultural literacy. Exposing patrons of all ages to the messages contained in children’s literature can have lasting and beneficial effects, and can shape how readers view the world. It is for this reason that it is vitally important to examine the social justice messages that exist in the current literature and to advocate for even more social justice and diversity in the world of picture books. Per her interests in incorporating social justice into LIS pedagogy, Cooke will look for the messages contained in the texts (e.g., through dialogue, via the illustrations, etc.), and consider how they can be incorporated into the education of future librarians (not just youth librarians). Furthermore, Cooke will be considering how such messages can influence the everyday practice of these librarians.

Cooke was awarded a 2016 Kenneth and Sylvia Marantz Fellowship for Picturebook Research.

Funding Agencies