Islamic Imaginings: Depictions of Muslims in English-Language Children's Literature in the United States from 1990 to 2010

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

This research examines changes in the depiction of Muslims in Islamic-themed children's literature over two time strata, one decade before and one decade after the events of September 11, 2001. Random sampling with replacement across the two strata yielded a total sample of 59 books, examined at three coding levels: bibliographic data, story/plot data (genre, rural/urban setting, time epoch, conflict type, conflict context, religious instruction), and primary character data (age, culture/ethnicity, and gender). Content is examined using both quantitative comparisons of manifest characteristics and qualitative comparison of emergent themes. Mann-Whitney U tests revealed no statistically significant changes regarding the quantities of manifest features, while additional qualitative analyses suggest six substantive latent thematic changes identified with respect to genre (3), time epoch/setting (1), conflict type (1), and gender related to conflict type (1). Regarding genre, while the quantity of books with humor, with Arabic glossary additions and those employing non-fiction are consistent, the kinds of humor, the nature of glossaria and the subject focus of non-fictions are believed to have changed. With respect to a story's setting, shifts are identified in the treatment of rural and urban spaces, even while most books continue to be set in rural locales. Finally, with respect to a story's conflict type and the primary characters engaged in that conflict, it is believed that changes are evident with respect to self-versus-self conflict type and that female characters are generally lacking in stories of self-identity discovery.

9/11, children's literature, Islam, content analysis, Muslim