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American publishers have published numerous children’s books about Barack Obama over the past several years; most take the form of informational biographies. This article reports on a research project aimed at how these books incorporate sociohistorical narratives, particularly those related to the civil rights movement. Though the features of the books might cause the reader to presume political neutrality, the books link readers to distinct Discourses (Gee, 1996), suggesting particular ideologies. In this article, we identified the following differences: (1) specific happenings from Obama’s life were included in some texts while omitted in others; (2) when the events were included, how they were framed differed; and (3) the narrative constructions of the events varied. We use the differences amongst these texts to argue for the importance of critical literacy in elementary classrooms.


This article was originally published in Children's Literature in Education. Copyright © 2010 Springer Science + Business Media, LLC.

The post-print (post peer-reviewed) version is posted here with the permission of the authors and publisher.