Essentialism in Children’s Literature: The Emergence of Retrogressive Discourses in post- 9/11 Picture Books.

  • Agustín Reyes-Torres
Keywords: essentialism, Self / Other, 9/11, children’s formation, ideology, dichotomy


Immediately following the 9/11 attacks, a number of picture books for children were published as a response to the new socio-political context in the United States. This article explores how these books constitute an essentialist discourse whose themes and perspectives can be considered strategic. As will be analyzed, they reveal a “natural” positioning that generates a degree of group identification and constructs drastic dichotomies such as us versus them, by overlooking internal differences, reasserting the values of patriotism and national identity, and fostering the emergence of jingoistic dynamics that bring difference / sameness into play. Such an ethnocentric discourse is problematic because it defines the Self in opposition to the Other, and controversially induces young readers to adopt a one-sided and dogmatic ideology.

Author Biography

Agustín Reyes-Torres
Universitat de València