n Mousaion - Looking for stereotypical partrayals of grandmothers in South African multilingual picture books

Volume 33, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



Picture books are vehicles of knowledge and socialisation for children. In portraying grandmothers in children's picture books, existing stereotypes are often enforced (Crawford and Bhattacharya 2014). This article set out to determine how, and if, the portrayal of grandmothers in a sample of multilingual picture books in South Africa is stereotyped and how possible stereotyping relates to South Africa's cultural diversity. Ten books were selected that have been translated into more than four of South Africa's 11 official languages. By using quantitative coding these texts were deconstructed by looking for stereotypical representations of grandmothers and the relationships that exist between the portrayal of cultural groups and stereotypes. The findings indicated that stereotypical portrayals of South African grandmothers do not follow the patterns uncovered in studies of a similar nature in the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK). South African grandmothers are stereotyped because of their goodness - their attitude of a positive servitude. In providing possible reasons for this deviation from the findings of similar studies elsewhere, the complex intricacies of politics and publishing activities in South Africa's are briefly discussed.

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