Educational Research and Reviews

  • Abbreviation: Educ. Res. Rev.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1990-3839
  • DOI: 10.5897/ERR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 1922

Full Length Research Paper

The analysis of picture storybooks aimed at pre-school children in terms of child rights violations

Duygu Yalman POLATLAR
  • Duygu Yalman POLATLAR
  • Preschool Education Department, Education Faculty, Fatih Sultan Mehmet Vak?f University, Kartalbaba Street, Valide-i Atik, 34664, Üsküdar, Istanbul, Turkey.
  • Google Scholar
Muhammet Ü. ÖZTABAK
  • Muhammet Ü. ÖZTABAK
  • Psychological Counseling and Guidance Department, Education Faculty, Fatih Sultan Mehmet Vak?f University, Kartalbaba Street, Valide-i Atik, 34664, Üsküdar, Istanbul, Turkey.
  • Google Scholar


  •  Received: 25 September 2021
  •  Accepted: 27 October 2021
  •  Published: 30 November 2021

 ABSTRACT

Books introduce children to social life and provide them with the opportunity to expand their imaginary worlds. Pre-school children are influenced by books more than adults. Children can identify themselves with the heroes in the books and choose to act like them. Therefore, the features of the heroes in children’s picture books, what they go through, and the intended message of the story have significant importance in terms of children’s development. This study aims to analyze children’s picture books aimed at children who are 3-6 years old in terms of child rights violations. Phenomenological pattern, which is among qualitative research methods, was used in the study. The 30 books, which constitute the data set of the study, were chosen firstly by determining the publishers, and secondly through random sampling method. The data of the study were sorted out using descriptive analysis. In order to find the messages that are directly or indirectly conveyed in children’s picture books, “the sentences in the books” were analyzed. The analysis of the data is based on the four sub-themes of child rights; namely, “Survival, Protection, Participation, Development” rights. This study found that development rights were violated the most. Then came survival and protection violations. No violation as to participation rights was observed. Finally, suggestions were made about the study.

 

Key words: Child rights, children’s literature, children’s books, pre-school, storybooks.


 INTRODUCTION

Article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) states that every person is regarded as child until the age of 18 except for the situation of becoming full age earlier according to the law that might be applied to the child (UNICEF, 2004). This international convention, which was accepted by United Nations General Assembly on 20 November 1989 as “United Nations Convention regarding Child Rights”, was approved by 197 countries. Turkey signed this convention in 1995.

 

The child is like someone lost in a foreign country where he/she does not know his/her rights as well as the language and the traditions of the country. He/she sometimes prefers to walk alone, but when he/she is faced with challenges, he/she looks for information and advice. That is when he/she needs a careful guide who can answer his/her questions (Korczak, 2011). Children’s literature, and specifically children’s books have an important role as a guide in raising children’s awareness. Children can be shaped and influenced easily. It is especially important that the child be protected extensively during the formation of feelings of awareness and self, personality development (Gören, 1998). Therefore, children’s books are a vital factor in developing children’s self-concept and introducing a new dimension to their lives.

 

A good children’s book guides the child into knowing himself/herself better, changing his behaviours if necessary and developing his personality. It also equips him/her with rich information in getting to know various kinds of people and being informed about other countries and societies (?irin, 1994; Sever, 2003). Stories and events in the book attract the interest of the age group they aim at, make children excited and have fun (Ar?, 2015). Children’s books not only give children the opportunity to get to know life and people, but they also produce things that children can use as a guide in recognizing their feelings and thoughts.

 

Children’s literature can be defined as literature that appeals to the interests, needs, and reading preferences of children and captivates children as its major audience. Children’s literature may be fictional, poetic, or factual, or a combination of any of these. The format that houses children’s literature may be a picture book in which story blends with compelling illustrations or photographs for a visual and verbal adventure through story or factual content (Hancock, 2008, p. 33). Children’s literature is an important tool for children in developing social, emotional, linguistic, cognitive and self-care skills as well as knowing their own self. Upon birth, humans bring with themselves a certain potential in terms of physical, emotional and cognitive development. Once fed and brought up in a environment that supports holistic development of child, this potential can be shaped in a way that will lead to positive results. If it does not find a suitable environment and is not fed and developed, emotional complications, cognitive difficulties and lack of skills might be observed even though it grows and is shaped physically (Alpay, 1991). Books invite the reader to think about himself/herself and lead him/her to new pursuits. It encourages the child to take an important step in knowing himself/herself.

 

The concept of child rights is the benefits protected by law for the children to develop physically, cognitively, socially, and morally in freedom and respect, in a healthy and normal manner (Say?ta and ?irin, 2000). Child rights are the total of laws that enable all children to use their rights in the best way and to benefit from them equally, and that help them protect their humane value in the society.

 

With the acceptance of the Charter of Child Rights in Turkey, one of the aims was to increase the awareness in the field of child rights and to pave the way for conscious practices regarding children. One of the ways towards reaching this goal is the publication of children’s literature. Because children aged between 3 and 6 can internalize the input more easily and more permanently, it is especially important that the elements including `child rights` be handled delicately.

 

Regulations have been made in national and international law by making sure that children benefit from basic human rights under the framework of equal opportunities, and great care has been taken to protect children’s life, education, health, and to help them have their own rights in every field of life.

 

In this study, child rights were analyzed under the headings of `survival`, `protection`, `participation` and `development` (Karaman, 2010).

 

Survival rights are the rights regarding meeting children’s basic requirements, such as living and having suitable life standards, medical care, food and shelter (Turan, 2011). They emphasize children’s right of living and their basic needs to survive. These can include food, shelter, an adequate life standard and access to medical services (Akyüz, 2010). Right of living is regarded as a prerequisite of all rights among human rights (Erbay, 2013).

 

Protection rights are the rights that protect children against any type of abuse and exploitation (Turan, 2011). It deals with issues such as special protection for refugee children, security for working children, protection and rehabilitation of children faced with any type of abuse or exploitation (Akyüz, 2010). In its simplest definition, it is the expression of children’s right of protection and avoiding any harm. It completes children’s other rights that they need to survive, develop and grow up (UNICEF, 2021).

 

Participation rights are the rights that aim to help children gain an active role in the family and in the society (Turan, 2011). One of the important observable concepts in which the value attributed to children is participation (Erbay, 2013a). It is not wrong to say that the biggest challenge in front of participation is the visible or invisible obstacles placed by adults and the organizational structures that are not transparent enough (Karata? and Acar, 2008, p. 38). Participation right accepts that children must be able to play an active role in the society and in the community (Akyüz, 2010).

 

Development rights were explained in CRC “Education and development are essential rights. This should begin with the right to access to early childhood development services and access to information from various sources with parents responsible for giving guidance. Meanwhile, children with special needs such as children with disabilities must have equal rights to development and education that enable them to realize their potential and meaningfully participate in society. The right to development also includes the opportunity to further specialized skills and physical and mental abilities that open ways for them to a brighter future and realize their dream” (UNICEF, 2021).

 

Development rights summarize what children need to reach their full potential, such as education, resting, cultural activities, access to information, freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Akyüz, 2010). Development rights also include children’s education. Therefore, in this study the internal structural and external structural features of children’s books were classified under the heading of development rights.

 

The following are the internal structural criteria that must be found in a children’s book:

 

a. Theme: The theme the writer wants to convey and the behaviours he/she aims to develop in children must be explicitly stated. While writers are in an exchange of emotions and thoughts with their readers, their works must not contain politically and ideologically driven parts. They must especially cover the need to commit to democratic principles, love for family, country, nation, nature and animals, sensitivity to good and nice things, respect for heroism, love for and pleasure of life. Including universal values in books is vital in that they broaden children’s worldview. On the other hand, while dealing with these themes, enabling children to see and understand the truth and adjusting the extent to it correctly require the cooperation of writers, painters, educationalists, psychologists and designers (Sever, 1995).

b. Topic: The relationship between the theme and the topic in children’s books must be strong. Topics must increase the feeling of confidence in children and they must be related to children’s life (Demircan, 2006).

c. Heroes: Whatever age group he belongs to, the child identifies himself/herself with one of the heroes in the books he reads and tries to resemble the hero. In this way, the child can learn effectively (Sa?lam, 2009).

d. Style: Redundant and banal words must be excluded from children’s books. Clarity, fluency, clearness, familiarity, variety and personalization must be regarded as basic conditions for creating a nice and effective style (Sever, 1995).

e. Plan: Events must be put in a consistent order in children’s books. Events must be narrated avoiding unnecessary details throughout the book (Demircan, 2006).

f. Writing and Punctuation: Children’s books with a literary value must be prepared through a perfectionist perspective in terms of grammar. Great care must be taken to use punctuation in correct places and without leaving room for ambiguity (Sa?lam, 2009).

 

The following are the external structural criteria that must be found in a children’s book:

 

a. Paper: The paper used in picture books must not be torn easily and it must be made of cardboard or cloth. The best paper is high-grade paper pulp, which is heavy.

 

A lightly glazed paper prevents print, especially colours from looking bright and decent. Glossy paper tires the eye as it reflects light (Tuncer, 1997; cited in Kocaba?, 1999).

b. Letters: As a variable that affects the quality of the page layout, the letters used in children’s books must have suitable sizes for ages and be easily readable. Letters with font sizes 24, 22, 20 must be used in the books prepared for pre-school children, whereas the sizes of the letters must get smaller as children get older in primary school period. The size, colour and thickness of the letters chosen in books must create a desire and easiness for watching and reading (Sever, 2007).

c. Size: It is considered normal for children’s books to be rectangular or square, and 16x23 cm big according to children’s level. Books must also be carried easily (Demircan, 2006).

d. Writing and Punctuation: Books must be perfect in terms of writing, punctuation and syntax (Kocaba?, 1999).

e. Information: The book must contain information on other publications of the publisher and the résumé of the writer. The book must also have ‘contents’, ‘glossary’, and ‘guide’ sections (Demircan, 2006).

f. Pictures: The pictures in the book must be suitable for the topic and provide unity and integrity. Pictures must be explanatory, interpretative, amusing, funny and cute depending on the topic. They must sometimes make the reader laugh and think at the same time. The basic feature the pictures must have is their ‘aesthetic value’. Pictures must contribute to the development of children’s aesthetic feelings. On condition that aesthetic concern is prioritized, the pictures in the books aimed at children who recently started pre-school and reading are expected to be colourful (Sever, 1995).

g. Page layout: Large gaps from top to bottom and left to right must be provided on the margins. The number of pages must be determined according to children’s level. The gaps among pages must be more than one (Demircan, 2006).

h. Outer Cover and Volume: No matter for which age group they are prepared, children’s books with a literary value must be attractive in terms of appearance because they attract children’s attention firstly thanks to their appearance. That is why children’s books must have an interesting cover, a cover layout that makes the book and reading attractive, and a title and a picture related to the topic (Sa?lam, 2009).

 

Children’s picture books containing these criteria enter children’s imaginary world and help children create authentic products. Having children meet reality without limiting their imagination is a necessary feature of a quality book. In a book with distinctive and authentic qualities, the information must be transparent. Books must also include messages implying that child rights are respected. These features, which must exist in books, are among children’s most basic rights. Adopting the principle of “the best interest of the child” and considering the function of leaving a permanent effect on children, people working on children’s literature must make publications and advance in this field. A work without quality cannot be said to be written considering the best interest of the child. Therefore, including these features in books is one of the most basic rights of the child. A child reading the books that adopt child rights as a principle will be more aware of his own rights.

 

The aim of this study is to analyze picture storybooks published in Turkey and aimed at pre-school children in terms of child rights violations. In accordance with this general aim, answers to the following sub-aims were searched:

 

1. Are “Survival” rights violated in picture storybooks?

2. Are “Protection” rights violated in picture storybooks?

3. Are “Participation” rights violated in picture storybooks?

4. Are “Development” rights violated in picture storybooks?


 METHODS

Model of the study

 

Phenomenological pattern, which is among qualitative research methods, was used in this study. Creswell (2013, p. 76) stated that the “phenomenological study describes common meaning for several individuals of their lived experiences of a concept or phenomenon”. Phenomenology is an approach used to explore and examine perceptions that individuals assign to their experiences (Creswell, 2013). Phenomenology focuses on phenomena which we are aware of but which we do not have detailed knowledge about. We come across phenomena in different shapes such as events, experiences, perceptions, trends, concepts, and situations (Y?ld?r?m and ?im?ek, 2013). In this study, the researchers wanted to explore the children’s rights violations in picture storybooks, which made phenomenology an appropriate method because it captured the violations of rights of children's books.

 

Data set of the study

 

The data set of the study comprises children’s picture books published for children aged between 3 and 6 years old in Turkey. Random sampling method was used in this study. In this sampling method, each unit in the universe has an equal and independent chance of being chosen as a sample (Büyüköztürk et al., 2009). When choosing the websites, 30 pre-school teachers were asked this question: "Which online book sales websites do you shop from the most?" Websites are listed from highest to lowest. The three highest ranking online booksellers were included in the research. As the second step, the key word “pre-school children’s picture books” was written on three websites that sell books online and have a wide range of books. Then, the results were saved. In the third step, names of the 20 publishers that appeared as a result of the online search were put in a bag and the number was narrowed to 10 thanks to a draw. After that, three books from each publisher were determined through another draw. As a result of all these procedures, a total of 30 books were analyzed. The list of these books and publishers were given in Table 1.

 

 

Collection of data

 

The data of this study were collected through “document analysis” technique. Document analysis comprises the analysis of written materials containing information about the phenomenon or phenomena aimed to be studied (Y?ld?r?m and ?im?ek, 2013).

 

In this study, the data were collected according to the sub-themes of child rights; namely, “survival, protection, participation and development”. The contents of the sub-themes were stated below (UNICEF, 2021):

a. Survival Rights: Since the first moment children are born, they have the right to life. They have the right to a registered name and nationality. They have the right to be cared for and protected by their parents and not be separated from their families. The government needs to safeguard these rights and provide basic services for children to survive and thrive. This includes quality healthcare, age-appropriate nutrition, clean drinking water and a safe place to live as well as access to future opportunities for development. Children’s living and having suitable life standards, living with their family, not suffering from discrimination, having a name, being registered, medical care, food and shelter.

b. Protection Rights: Children’s being protected from physical, emotional and sexual abuse, preventing child labor, protection of children under armed conflict, protection of children in judiciary system, protection of children who need special care. Once children are born and survive, they have the right to be protected from all forms of harm including domestic violence. They must be protected from physical violence and psychological intimidation may they be within and outside their families. The right to protection also includes being protected from child labour, tasks that are dangerous or impede their education. Likewise, children must be protected from harmful substances and drugs. Another important aspect is protection from trafficking, smuggling, kidnapping, sexual abuse and all forms of exploitation against children. The government also has the duty to ensure that child victims are rehabilitated and reintegrated into society with dignity.

 

In terms of the justice process, every child not only has the right to fair treatment but also unique attention to children’s needs meaning every legal procedure needs to take into account the best interest of children. 

 

For children separated from their families, they have the right to be protected and cared for with respect to their ethnic background, language, religion, and culture. In wartime, every child must be protected from war or joining the fighting. When children are refugees, they must have special assistance and protection.

c. Participation Rights: Children’s expressing their ideas, their right to participate in the topics related to them, setting up an association, getting together in peace. Children are members of society. They may be small in size but they fully have the right to freely express their thoughts, views and opinions, and participate in society particularly in the areas affecting them. Their voices must be seriously taken into account in line with their age and maturity.

Every child and youth has unfathomable potentials. While the government has to facilitate and support the participation of children and youth, everyone also needs to take action to support children and youth to participate and exercise their agency as they are also the main driving force in bringing about positive change to society.

d. Development Rights: Education, games, resting, spending free time positively, getting information, religion, conscience, freedom of thought. A child today is an adult of tomorrow. Education and development are essential rights. This should begin with the right to access to early childhood development services and access to information from various sources with parents responsible for giving guidance. Meanwhile, children with special needs such as children with disabilities must have equal rights to development and education that enable them to realize their potential and meaningfully participate in society. The right to development also includes the opportunity to further specialized skills and physical and mental abilities that open ways for them to a brighter future and realize their dream. 

 

Considering the rights, whose contents have been stated above, the researchers determined violations of rights in the text.

 

All the stories in the storybooks in the list were examined. A word, a sentence or a paragraph can be chosen as the unit of analysis. In this study, sentence was chosen as the unit of analysis while analyzing stories and the frequency of occurrence of the designated subcategories in each sentence was determined. At this stage, the sentences with words matching the subcategories or explaining designated subcategories or sentences directly conveying the meaning were taken into consideration. The weight of each aspect was valued as a point. The values of subcategories in the books are indicated in the tables as frequency.

 

Analysis of the data

 

The data of this study were sorted out through “descriptive analysis” method. Descriptive analysis is a type of qualitative data analysis that includes summarizing and evaluating –according to previously determined themes– of the data acquired through various data collection methods. The aim in this approach is to provide the reader with the acquired data in an organized and interpreted manner. In descriptive analysis, main and sub-themes are determined beforehand and direct references are made to reflect the opinions (Y?ld?r?m and ?im?ek, 2013). The books chosen in this study were analyzed under four sub-themes in accordance with the Convention on Child Rights, as “survival”, “protection”, “participation” and “development”.


In descriptive analysis, under the framework of the sub-themes, child rights violations in each book were stated along with their frequencies. Also, direct references were taken from sample statements. The data were coded by two researchers independently and simultaneously. Inter coder agreement of 93% was achieved in this study according to the reliability formula suggested by Miles and Huberman (1994) in calculating inter-coder agreement. Therefore, the study can be said to be reliable.


 FINDINGS

Violation of survival rights

 

Direct references about the violation of survival rights are given below (Table 2):

 

a. In the sentence (K29) “Even the frog can be a lifeguard”, it is observed that the “even the frog” is belittled. Therefore, there is violation of survival rights.

b. In the sentence (K22) “Some of his friends had fewer teeth. But of course, THEY were not from the ROYAL family”, royal family is glorified with the words “THEY” and “ROYAL” being written in big font size. The birthrights of children are described as characteristics that belong only to those from the royal family. In this case, it emphasizes the need for children to be members of the royal family. With the effort to show the royal family as perfect, there occurs discrimination between the royal family and the public; therefore, survival rights are violated as the Article 2 of the Convention on Child Rights is ignored.

c. The fact that the sentence (K24) “I will name you jelly” includes threat contradicts with the principle of “the best interest of the child”. Thus, survival rights are violated.

d. The fact that the sentence (K23) “Are you sure

e. you will behave? Or you will stay in the car” includes threat contradicts with the principle of “the best interest of

the child”. Hence, survival rights are violated.

f. In the sentence (K24) “The first day of school is tiring. Even for a nameless dog”, lacks the right of having a name, which is the Article 7 of the Convention on Child Rights. Therefore, survival rights are violated.

 

 

Violation of protection rights

 

Direct references about the violation of protection rights are given below (Table 3):

 

a. In the sentence (K7) “He said, you never know; people do very strange, very wrong things”, protection rights are violated as negative bias is imposed about people. The story tells about the adventures of a ball. But every time, the child is given a sense of fear instead of curiosity and entrepreneurship.

b. The fact that the sentence (K22) “His little brother had NO teeth although he IS from the Royal family” includes discrimination will cause the children to be negatively influenced by this book. Thus, protection rights are violated.

c. The fact that the sentence (K20) “Duru watched TV more comfortably. She connected to the internet more” imposes the idea of spending time using technology will influence children negatively. Depicting Duru with various screen watching situations for many

d. times may indicate negative effects on children’s holistic development. For example, Kuss and Griffits (2011) showed that that social networking site usage is negatively correlated with social participation and academic achievement. Hence, protection rights are violated.

e. The sentences (K22) “The writer and illustrator of many successful children’s and adolescents’ books …….. He lives with his wife and children in Scotland. You can find other works of the writer in …….publishing” are thought to use the ending of the story for a commercial purpose. Participation rights definition according to CRC, children should be protected from all forms of exploitation, At the end of the story, the author's recommendation of his/her book to the child can be interpreted as a commercial concern. This violates the protection rights of children psychologically.

 

 

Violation of participation rights

 

In the books examined, no violation related to participation rights was detected according to the definitions of the CRC.

 

Violation of development rights

 

Direct references about the violation of protection rights are given below (Table 4):

 

a. The incomprehensibility in the sentence (K23) “Nameless? But it can’t be him. He is chasing butterflies”, shows that the principle of “the best interest of the child” is ignored.

b. The sentence (K5) “There was a farm where all his animals lived in peace” includes incomprehensibility. This contradicts with the internal structural language criterion and it ignores the principle of “the best interest of the child”.

c. In the sentence (K2) “I??l does not shout to his brother when they look for him. He goes up to him, the words “when they look for him” causes ambiguity. The fact that internal structural language criterion is not met shows that the principle of “the best interest of the child” is ignored.

d. The sentence (K2) “The first international phone call made with underwater cable was made from London to Paris in 1891” is found at the end of the book, in the part called “trivial information”. This part does not contain information suitable for the age of the child; therefore, internal structural theme criterion is ignored, leading to the violation of development rights.

e. Adverb inadequacy in the sentence (K29) “There was a very nice forest in Mount Kaf, the mountain of tales” contradicts with the principle of “the best interest of the child” as it is against the language criteria.

f. Lack of object in the sentence (K3) “When the waiter brings her hamburger, Seda says ‘Thank you’ to him” causes the violation of internal structural language criterion.

g. Unnecessary use of conjunction in the sentence (K1) “When I got back home and I rested a little” violates the principle of “the best interest of the child” and shows that internal structural language criterion is ignored.

h. In the sentence (K23) “Are you sure you will behave? Or you will stay in the car. By the way, who opened the potato chips, who stole the sausage?, the disconnection among the sentences indicates that internal structural language criterion is ignored. Therefore, the principle of “the best interest of the child”, which is one of the development rights, is violated.

i. Constant use of the sentence (K20) “His mom said, ‘Stop’ causes disconnection in the story; thus, internal structural language criterion lacks quality.

j. The sentence (K24) “Nameless, you had no right to do this” includes threat. Also, in the book coded K24, the fact that the dog named Nameless is confined in a bag without his consent shows that the principle of “respect for the child’s opinions” is ignored. Both including a threat and ignoring the principle of “respect for the child’s opinions” mean that the “theme”, which is one of the internal structural elements, is not given importance.

 

Also, the violations as to the internal structural and external structural features of the books studied under the heading of development rights (quality picture story books) can be found below:

 

a. Out of the 30 books studied, 14 of them do not have page numbers. As the external structural criterion of the book is inadequate, there is violation of development rights.

b. Out of the 30 books studied, 3 of them state the age range in a small part on the corner of the back cover. No age range was observed in the remaining 27 books. Since the cover and binding criterion, which is one of the external structural criteria of the book, is inadequate, there is violation of development rights.

c. The 30 books studied were found to be suitable as children’s picture books aimed at 3-6-year-olds in terms of typeface. However, when the books were analyzed considering the criteria of the font size, it was observed that the big font size in 2 books limited the pictures. Because letters, which is one of the external structural criteria, is ignored, we can say that there is violation of development rights.

d. Out of the 30 books studied, 3 of them are hardbound, 3 of them are thread bound, and the remaining 24 are wire bound. Since the cover and binding criterion, which is one of the external structural criteria of the book, is inadequate, there is violation of development rights.

e. Out of the 30 books studied, 5 of them have pictures not related to the text. Out of these 30 books, 6 of them have the text bigger than a quarter of the page; thus, the text stands out more than the pictures. As the page layout (picture-text relationship) in the books is inadequate, violation of development right was observed based on the external structural criterion.

f. “Taking into consideration the expected aesthetic features of children’s picture storybooks aimed at 3-6-year-olds, out of the 30 books studied, 15 of them were observed to have violation of development rights since the quality of the pictures and the paper is not up to the standards based on the external structural criterion of pre-school children’s picture books.

g. There are questions about the text in each page. However, these questions, given in the book coded K9, cause disconnection in the text. This situation contradicts with the principle of “the best interest of the child; therefore, language, which is one of the internal structural criteria, proves to be inadequate.

h. Because words are unnecessarily emphasized in the book coded K22, language factor was observed to be inadequate depending on internal structural criteria, which leads to violation of development rights.

 


 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

In order to equip children with the understanding of child rights, children’s picture books must have suitable qualities for children. A book with suitable qualities can help children grasp child rights better. In this study, 30 children’s picture books aimed at the period of 3-6 years were analyzed in terms of child rights violations.

 

In this study, books were evaluated based on the principle of “the best interest of the child” and in terms of survival, protection, participation and development rights. Also, the internal structural and external structural features of the books were analyzed and these features were discussed under the heading of development rights.

 

In this study, it was observed that four books (13%) had indirect expressions of threat, belittling and discrimination, which violate children’s survival rights. According to Sever (2003) and Kavcar et al. (2004), one of the most important functions of children’s books is to make children create personal values about humanity and life. These books, through their characters and stories, must be able to offer children some experience areas about people, nature and life.

 

In Büyükalan and Harmankaya (2019)’s studies on child rights, 75 published children’s picture books that received various national and international awards between 1963 and 2018 were analyzed. It was observed that the most included rights in the pictures and texts were survival rights, followed by development rights, participation rights and protection rights, respectively. It was seen that participation rights were the third most common type and they appeared more in the texts than in the pictures. With all the books analyzed, development rights were observed more in the pictures (59%) of the award-winning children’s picture books than in their texts (41%). In his research, where he analyzed 100 Basic Works, consisting of stories, Karaman (2010) found that development and survival rights appeared more than participation and protection rights.

 

Four books in this study were observed to include imposition of negative bias, discrimination, commercial directing, and recommending negative free time activities. Hence, children’s protection rights are violated.

 

These violations carry the risk of children’s internalizing the messages that negatively affect them psychologically. For example, in the sentence (K20) “Duru watched TV more comfortably. She connected to the internet more”, it is attention grabbing that the understanding of free time fun activities is associated with spending more time using technology, even recommending it indirectly. A quality book must not impose any negative ideas on children, either directly or indirectly.

 

In his research, where he analyzed tales, Turan (2011) found that children’s protection rights were the most negatively used type. However, in this study, it was observed that violation of development rights was more. While Turan (2011) included in his research the tales in the book “A Tale for Each Day”, this study analyzed the most preferred books. The content of each book reflects the features of its period. The fact that tales were written in the previous centuries whereas new books focus more on contemporary times might lead to differences in the findings. According to Y?ld?z et al. (2018), children make sense of life better with the content chosen from current topics in children’s books.

 

In Sar? (2019)’s study, the fact that negative examples were observed in the 200 books analyzed prevents children’s right to be protected from any kind of violence. The element of violence appears in 13 books. The rights violations identified in this study are similar to the findings of Sar?'s (2019) research.

 

No violation of participation rights was observed in the children’s picture books analyzed. However, the books had no positive expressions about participation rights. Yet, “children’s books” is a good tool to teach children the awareness of participation rights. Children are good observers. They adapt everything they see, watch, and listen to their lives. That is why a quality children’s book must enable children to internalize their own participation rights. Through participation, children gain life skills, build self-confidence and be a part of the society. In addition, with participation rights made available to all children, it is possible to create feelings of belonging, justice and sensitivity for children coming from different roots (Lansdown et al., 2014). Participation rights require not only changing the way adults listen to children, but also a thorough reconsideration of how adults perceive children (Todres and Higinbotham, 2016).

 

In the study where Pembegül (2019) researched child rights expressions included in “The Curious Child” and “Science Child”, which are popular science journals published by TÜB?TAK (Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey), found that the journals included, from most to least, participation rights, development rights, survival rights, and protection rights, respectively. The most common rights found in these journals proved to be children’s rights related to accessing information that would support their development, rights of playing, having fun, resting and doing enjoyable activities, and rights including their expression of ideas in a written, oral, or art form, or in another way they could choose on their own. Therefore, it can be concluded that children following these two journals meet these rights most.

 

In his study, Gündo?du (2018) analyzed 275 children’s picture books whose heroes are children. He analyzed activities not compatible with ‘participation’ and determined which qualities of participation were violated.

 

As a result, he found that the situations where activities incompatible with participation in open-air activities were; adults making decisions on behalf of children by interfering in where and what they will play, making children work without their consent in things like gardening in order to complete the tasks, and ignoring the outdoor activities children want to do, such as riding a bike. A variety of situations incompatible with participation were observed under the concept of basic requirements consisting of categories such as sleep, food, personal care/cleaning activities and health. Adults decided on the time children went to bed without considering children’s opinions and by ignoring their wishes. In addition, in almost all the activities about food, children were not included in the lunch/dinner preparation process or were informed of the day’s menu; thus, they became the object of the process, not the subject. It was concluded that these behaviours by adults resulted from the fact that they thought they made the best decisions for children.

 

In this study, it was found that development rights were violated the most. Violations such as incomprehensibility, disconnection in the story, grammar mistakes were observed.

 

According to the external structural criteria we determined, children’s picture books aimed at 3-6-year-olds that were analyzed in this study were not found to be suitable in terms of child rights.

 

Out of the 30 books studied, 27 of them (90%) did not state any age range. For this reason, the researchers came across books that did not aim at 3-6-year-old children in the data set. These books were not analyzed. In the article 17 of the Convention on Child Rights, the importance that must be given to children’s books is stated as follows: “Contracting countries accept the importance of mass communication and enable children to acquire information and documents from various national and international resources aimed to develop children’s social, spiritual and moral welfare along with physical and mental health”. According to this article, children struggle to access books suitable for aiming at their actual development level as no age range was stated. This result might indicate that children are limited by their environment according to article 17 of the Convention on Child Rights.

 

A children’s book written in accordance with children’s development rights is considered to have achieved the internal structural and external structural criteria. Out of the 30 books in the data set, 5 of them (16.6%) were not considered suitable for external structural criteria, and 14 of them (46,6%) did not achieve internal structural criteria. If we associate these criteria with development rights, the fact that 19 books (63%) out of 30 books could not achieve the criteria can be thought to be a serious problem.

 

Starting from pre-school period, children’s books are the first tools that introduce children to the aesthetic language of colour and illustration as well as making them sees the beauty of their mother tongue. Quality children’s books are visual and written tools where children witness the interpretation of events, phenomena and situations from the artist’s perspective (Sever, 2013). In the books analyzed, elements that can make it difficult for children to understand the text were observed, such as incomprehensibility, disconnection among sentences and unnecessary emphasis, which are not compatible with the features of a quality book.         

 

In their work, Türky?lmaz and Ku? (2014) analyzed the 100 Basic Works (the books recommended by The Ministry of Education) in terms of child rights. They found that the books did not give child rights as much importance as they should, and that they were written without considering the reality of children. The reason for this might stem from the fact that child rights were not legalized at the time the 100 basic works were written.

 

As a result, upon the analysis of the books in terms of child rights, it was observed that there were very few books suitable for the age level of children. The principle of “the best interest of the child” is stated in Article 3 of the Convention on Child Rights as follows: “In all the children-related activities organized by state or private social institutions, courts, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the benefit of children is the basic idea”. Although the principle of “the best interest of the child” is a strong base in the Convention on Child Rights, it was determined that the books analyzed were not prepared according to this principle, and thus, ignore Article 3 of the convention.

 

In the research by Kurt (2013), it was concluded that although there were some improvements in terms of child rights recognition and usability, and children being considered a value, these improvements were not enough. Kurt also emphasized the importance of the recognition of child rights by both adults and children. Article 42 of UN’s Convention on Child Rights also mentions the necessity for the child rights to be learned by both adults and children through suitable and effective means.

 

In Sar?’s (2019) research, no items on rights were reflected in 92 books of the 200 books analyzed. The fact that there are no items on rights in the books might be because there is no entity representing children. In addition, the fact that books include scientific and conceptual information is another reason why there is no concept of child rights. Both positive and negative examples were observed in 108 books. Sar? determined 135 storybooks that emphasized development rights. In this part, findings are discussed under the categories of development (135), survival (68), protection (26), and participation (13), respectively.

 

In another study, 64 best-selling books from best-selling publishers in Turkey in 2019 were analyzed in terms of child rights. It was found that children’s picture books included expressions about children’s participation and survival rights more, whereas they included expressions about development and protection rights less (Bagçeli et al., 2020).

 

Todres and Higinbotham (2016) state that adults fall behind in appreciating the value of children’s participation even in forums specifically designed to discuss and evaluate child rights. For the violations of rights to be reduced, primarily writers must have a high level of awareness and knowledge about child rights.

 

Referring to E?ribel (2011, p. 332)’s emphasis, as child rights and child matter is a matter of civilization and future, the solution must be put forth at this level. “Child right is a matter of world civilization and future. What must be put forth is the identification and rehabilitation of the daily, given problems, the solution to the problems on a quantitative basis, and their numerical follow-up, as well as a culture of child rights and an educative, permanent, effective organization that will have influence on the current problems beyond measurement and create a qualitative leap”.


 SUGGESTIONS

Based on the findings of the research, the following suggestions can be made:

 

a. Literature review shows that books aimed at pre-school period were not analyzed in terms of other rights present in the Convention on Child Rights. Therefore, an analysis of violation of other rights in children’s books might offer researchers and children’s literature writers deep insights into the topic.

b. No study was observed in the literature on the analysis of books aimed at 6-18-year-olds in terms of child rights. From this perspective, it can be said that carrying out an analysis of the books aimed at 6-18-year-olds might pave the way for valuable conclusions.

c. Based on the results of the research, no positive or negative expressions about participation rights were found in the books analyzed. It can be suggested that the writers and the illustrators of children’s picture books prepare the books considering participation rights.

d. When preparing children’s picture books, experts in the field (who have knowledge about both pedagogy and the laws) must be involved in the process.

e. It was observed that out of the 30 books in the data set of the research, 27 of them did not state any age range on either front or the back cover. Trainings on internal structural and external structural criteria must be organized for people working on children’s books and leaflets about the subject must be prepared for reference.


 CONFLICT OF INTEREST

The authors have not declared any conflict of interests. 



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