Philip Nel > Courses > English 355: Literature for Children (Fall 2016) > Journal > Ideology
English 355: Literature for Children
Required Texts
Schedule of Assignments

Ideology refers to the dominant beliefs of a society. Roland Barthes once defined the word ideology as "opinion or belief, naturalized as truth." Though I long ago forgot precisely where he made that comment, the phrase has stuck with me. It gets at the invisibility of ideology. We often learn society's dominant beliefs unconsciously, without realizing that we're doing so. The phrase also illuminates the idea of a belief that we treat as a fact: because what we believe determines how we operate, ideologies can have a lot of power over our day-to-day lives. They're an efficient, often invisible way of maintaining systems of power.

Why should you care? Because children's literature is one place in which ideology is embedded. To think about what assumptions a book might harbor, try these questions that Nathalie Wooldridge offers this useful set of eight questions to ask of any text:

Source for the above: Nathalie Wooldridge, qtd. in Maria José Botelho and Masha Kabakow Rudman, Critical Multicultural Analysis of Children’s Literature: Mirrors, Windows, and Doors, p. 4. Bothelo and Rudman added class to Wooldridge’s list. I added race and sexuality.

Recommended Resources: Contexts (for Journals) | Blogs | Censorship | Diversity | Writing | Research | Education

Contexts (for Journals)




  • NAME, the National Association for Multicultural Education
  • Reading While White: “Allies for Racial Diversity & Inclusion in Books for Children and Teens”
  • Teaching for Change: offers an anti-bias curriculum, resources for teaching about the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, recommended books, and ways for parents to get involved.
  • We Need Diverse Books




Philip Nel | Courses | Books | Blog | Crockett Johnson Homepage | Links | Self-Promotion | Site Map | FAQ
Program in Children's Literature| Department of English | Kansas State University

Copyright © 2016 Philip Nel. Please read the Disclaimer.

This page was last updated on Thursday, August 25, 2016