This site was designed to help educators find fictional stories to incorporate into their science lessons. The use of fictional stories is an effective pathway to your student’s science background knowledge, interest and understanding. This site was also developed in response to a Literature Review that asked: How are females of color portrayed in science-based fictional picture books? You can find a summary of the created Literature Review below, after a little bit about who I am.

Like many of us educators, I wear many hats. I am a PhD student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, within their Language, Literacy, & Culture Concentration–part of the Teacher Education Curriculum Studies department. I am also an elementary English Language Learner Co-Teaching Specialist in Idaho (where I am conducting my PhD research). I have many hobbies, including running a Facebook page called “Science Sites for Education”: https://www.facebook.com/ScienceSites4Ed/. I am also the daughter of an amazing mom, a huge cat fan, NCIS fan, and sunshine and trees make my heart happy! 🙂

I hope you enjoy the site! Happy Reading!

Literature Review Summary

Reading as an Identity Negotiation in Elementary Science Picture Books 

Research Question

How are female characters of color portrayed in science-based fictional picture books?

Why Fictional Books? It is a pathway that needs to be explored

“Girls and women often find reading a pleasure. This pleasure often comes from the ways in which literature allows them to relate to fictional characters and to understand how their lives are experienced. Girls, like women, often cite strong preferences for reading fiction” (Ford, Brickhouse, Lottero-Perdue, & Kittleson, 2006, p. 272).

Conceptual Framework

Schema Theory: Previous experiences, knowledge, emotions and understandings affect what and how we learn

“Children need to know the text and to have an awareness of self in relation to the text to bring about understanding, they also need to be able to see themselves in the text and to position themselves as one of the characters in the narrative” (Evans, 2012, p. 325).

Keene & Zimmermann’s Work: Reading Comprehension–Text-to-Self, Text-to-World, Text-to-Text. These are common comprehension strategies used by teachers to support student understanding.

Combining schema theory with Keene & Zimmermann’s research that students have an increased level of comprehension as they make three different connections during the reading process, a literature review finding indicates-which books teachers select impact children’s understanding of themselves, their world and what is viewed as knowledge.

Transactional Nature of Reading

The transactional process of reading can be internalized by the reader and can lead to a positive view of self or a negative view of self, further impacting self-esteem, self-concept, and self-visualizing.


20 science based fictional picture books where a female was featured as one of the main characters were reviewed.

  • Locating the books for the study included:
    • Bookstore searches: in person, pulling and examining books individually
    • Website searches: bookstores, databases, blog sites
    • Online library search
    • Conversations with book sellers, librarians, educators
  • A Review of the Literature was completed to support the descriptive analysis process.
    • Literature Review Lens: identity, science culture, school culture, the act of reading, and the role of story and identity.
  • Adescriptive analysis was conducted to examine language use, science references, the role of process, and the identities portrayed within the text and the pictures.
    • Identifiers used by the book publishers and local libraries were also recorded.


Findings show that females of color are rarely the main character and the majority of the examined books were not identified as science books, although there was a science theme throughout the book.


Examining how females of color are portrayed in science-based picture books is an examination of what is, and also what can be in the world of science literacy, science knowledge construction, and possible science identities.


Baghban, M. (2007). Immigration in childhood: Using picture books to cope. Social Studies, 98(2), 71-76.

Evans, J. (2012). “This is me”: Developing literacy and a sense of self through play, talk and stories. Education 3-13, 40(3), 315–331.

Ford, D. J., Brickhouse, N. W., Lottero-Perdue, P., & Kittleson, J. (2006). Elementary girls’ science reading at home and school. Science Education, 90(2), 270–288.

Gee, J. P. (2001). Reading as situated language: A sociocognitive perspective. Journal Of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 44(8), 714.

Harvey, S. & Goudvis, A. (2000). Strategies that work: Teaching comprehension to enhance understanding. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

Hefflin, B. R., & Barksdale-Ladd, M. A. (2001). African American children’s literature that helps students find themselves: Selection guidelines for Grades K-3. Reading Teacher, 54(8), 810.

Johnston, I., & Mangat, J. (2003). Cultural Encounters in the Liminal Spaces of Canadian Picture Books. Changing English: Studies In Reading & Culture, 10(2), 199-204.

Keene, E. & Zimmerman, S. (1997). Mosaic of thought. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Lee, O. (1997). Guest editorial: Scientific literacy for all: What is it, and how can we achieve it? Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 34(3), 219–222.

Leonard, J., Moore, C. M., & Brooks, W. (2013). Multicultural Children’s Literature as a Context for Teaching Mathematics for Cultural Relevance in Urban Schools. The Urban Review, 46(3), 325–348.

Lowery, R. M., & Sabis-burns, D. (2001). From borders to bridges : Making cross-cultural connections through multicultural literature. Multicultural Education, 50–55.

Monhardt, L., & Monhardt, R. (2006). Creating a context for the learning of science process skills through picture books. Early Childhood Education Journal, 34(1), 67–71.

Nieto, S., Rivera, M., & Quinones, S. (2012). Connecting the interpersonal, instructional, and institutional contexts. Journal Of The Association Of Mexican American Educators, 6(3), 30-31.

Style, E. (1988). Curriculum as window and mirror. Listening for All Voices. Oak Knoll School monograph, Summit, NJ, 1988.

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