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Research Thesis Topic

Children’s Literature and Popular Culture: Text, Literacy and Identity in Early Childhood Education

Topic ID

Thesis Topic/Title
Children’s Literature and Popular Culture: Text, Literacy and Identity in Early Childhood Education


Children’s literature and popular culture texts are widely used as learning resources in homes, early childhood education settings and classrooms throughout the Anglophone world. A broad range of picture books, alphabet books, fairy tales, storybooks, and multimedia texts – many of which are also the subject of widely available lesson plans and other teaching resources – are used to introduce children to foundational concepts of literacy, social participation and cultural belonging. This program of research, led by Professor Sue Saltmarsh and Associate Professor Georgina Barton, concerns the ways in which literary and popular texts for children utilise semiotic resources and conventions of written, visual and multimedia texts. It is also interested in the intertextual, discursive and social knowledges that children bring to their negotiation of social identities and literacy learning, through their engagement with these texts.

This research aims to address the following research questions:

- How do genres of contemporary children’s literature (eg, picture books, alphabet books, etc) function in the construction of children’s identities and literacy learning?

- How do children’s literary and popular texts construct notions of national identity through representations of history, landscapes, institutions and cultural practices?

- How do children’s literary and popular texts construct subjectivities and social belonging through representations of economic, democratic, educational, social and cultural participation?

- How do early childhood educators select and utilise literary and popular texts for use in teaching and learning, and what factors contribute to their choices and pedagogic strategies for use of such texts?

- How do children draw upon narrative storylines, characters, and thematic concerns of the texts with which they engage in their construction of identities and social relations?

- How does children’s engagement in literacy learning activities informed by images, sounds and concepts within multimedia texts, and how do children relate these to their knowledge of the broader world around them?

This program of research can accommodate postgraduate students interested in exploring any of the above topics, or other related topics in consultation with Professor Saltmarsh or Associate Professor Barton. The research team has expertise in social, cultural, literary and educational theory, and qualitative methodologies including critical discourse analysis, social semiotics, systemic functional linguistics, ethnography, visual ethnography and case study.

Principal Supervisor

Associate Supervisors

Research Affiliations
  • School of Teacher Education and Early Childhood

Field of Research
  • Curriculum and Pedagogy

Available Academic Programs

Application Open Date

Application Close Date

USQ Scholarship Applications

Other Scholarship Funding Details

Pre-approved for Ethics
Not Applicable

Admission Requirements

Please review the admission requirements for the academic program associated with this Thesis Topic

Prospective applicants should contact Professor Saltmarsh at or Associate Professor Georgina Barton at to discuss their research interests and proposed topic for their study prior to submitting their application.

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