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  • Purhonen, Laura (2022)
    We are living in a more diverse society than ever. Diversity is a broad theme, and this study includes gender and sexual orientation. Through those themes study examines diverse families and relationships. It is important to include diversity to children’s and youth literature because it allows everyone to identify to the characters and have social cohesion to their community. Theoretical background is the earlier studies of children’s and youth literature and literature education, family and relationship studies. Earlier research shows that there is very little diversity in sexual orientation and the discourse about families is predominantly heteronormative nucler family in children’s and youth literature. The aim of this study was to find out what kind of discourses of diversity in families and relationships are in a selected group of children’s and youth literature. The research data consisted of six children’s and youth books which were candidates for Finlandia prize in children’s and youth literature in 2020. There were children’s picture books as well as youth novels. Qualitative method and discourse analysis was used to analyze the material. Illustrations were analyzed as well as text. The research showed six discourses which were influenced by the notion of the gender and sexual orientation. The discourses of diverse families were: 1) heteronormative nuclear family, 2) diverse families, 3) family, illness and death and 4) family’s wealthiness, and the discourses for the diverse relationships were 5) be who you want and 6) heterosexuality is still predominant. This study reaffirms earlier research about diversity of families and relationships by showing that heteronormative nuclear family and heterosexuality is predominant in children’s and youth literature. However, the discourses of diverse families and relationships were varying and shown in most of the books.
  • Varetto-Schnitter, Melissa (2022)
    The understanding of gender and its diversity has expanded in recent decades while the status and rights of gender minorities have been actively featured in public debate. Expanding knowledge of and understanding gender diversity is one of the objectives of basic education in Finland and teachers are obliged to take gender diversity into account in their professional work. Literature for children and young adults can be used as a tool to address diversity in a school context. Reading fiction provides opportunities to understand both ourselves and the world we live in. Every child and adolescent should have the opportunity to read books in which they identify at least some characters of the fiction as well as their family and their living environment in. Even though a wide range of topics are covered in the current literature for children and young adults, gender diversity still appears to be a relatively rare theme. The purpose of this study was to analyse how gender diversity is portrayed in books for children and young adults published in the turn of the 2020s. The study was carried out as a qualitative study. The research method used was data-oriented content analysis, which was used to analyse four literary works that cover gender diversity: two children’s picture books and two youth novels. The aim is to examine how books about gender diversity could be used as a part of basic education. In children’s picture books, gender diversity was portrayed in a way that is understandable for children and the message of the stories was that everyone should be accepted, valued, and respected just the way they are. The stories also brought up the idea of everyone's equality despite our differences. In the youth novels the identity of the teenage protagonist was closely examined. In both youth novels the theme of gender diversity was addressed through the reflection of the protagonist’s own gender identity and the description of family conflicts and misunderstanding occurring in our society.