Title page for ETD etd-04012004-202528

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Goins, Sheila Lewis
Author's Email Address sgoins1@lsu.edu
URN etd-04012004-202528
Title Botany in Children's Literature: A Content Analysis of Plant-Centered Children's Picture Books That Have a Plot and Characters
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Curriculum & Instruction
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
James Wandersee Committee Chair
Earl Cheek Committee Member
Frank Cartledge Committee Member
Rita Culross Committee Member
Robin Roberts Dean's Representative
  • mixed methodology
  • plant science
  • children's literature
  • content analysis
Date of Defense 2004-03-08
Availability unrestricted
This content analysis study examined 36 plant-centered children’s science picture books that have a plot and characters published from 1950 to present. Botanical subject matter and learning opportunities offered by these books were analyzed, along with the range and frequency of the National Science Education Standards-consistent and age-appropriate plant science concepts and principles. The science graphics, artistic innovations, and story plot of these books were also examined. Rubrics and research-based recommendations were developed to offer parents, teachers, and librarians assistance in identifying, evaluating, and using such books to help children of ages 4-8 learn about plants and enjoy plant science.

This genre of children’s literature was identified and selected primarily through extensive research at four major, nationally recognized children’s literature collections: The Kerlan Collection, The de Grummond Collection, The Center for Children’s Books, and The Central Children’s Room at the Donnell Library.

This study determined that there was a substantial increase in the number of books written in this genre of children’s literature from 1990 to 2000. Botanical subject-matter knowledge and learning opportunities offered by these books include biodiversity of plants; characteristics of plants; life cycles of plants; economic botany, ecology, and ethnobotany. The range and frequency of National Standards-consistent and age-appropriate plant science concepts and principles identified within these books, in part, though not exclusively, included the emergent categories of the process of photosynthesis; basic needs of plants; plant structures; external signals affecting plant growth; environmental stress to plants; biodiversity of plants; plants as animal habitats; and common uses of plants.

With regard to plant science graphics, 13 books were identified as presenting some type of science graphic, beyond simple illustrations. The most frequently used graphics were cutaways, sequence diagrams, and zoom graphics.

The findings relative to story plot and characters revealed that the majority of story plots involved a problem followed by a solution, rather than merely a series of events. The main character(s) of these stories were most often Caucasians (44%), followed by plants (28%), Hispanics (11%), animals personified (8%), African Americans (6%), and indigenous peoples (3%). Most often the stories took place in rural settings.

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