Challenging Male Gender Stereotypes in Children’s Picture Books

A Social Semiotic and Multimodal Analysis

  • Arsenio Jesús Moya Guijarro Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha
  • Roberto Martínez Mateo Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha


The main aim of this article is to identify the visual and verbal strategies that authors and illustrators display in five picture books featuring children who do not conform to traditional masculine gender stereotypes. The theoretical framework adopted for the multimodal analysis is Systemic-Functional Social Semiotics. After identifying the verbal and visual transitivity/transactional options that are actualised in the sample texts, we determine whether the semantic load that each mode contributes to the construction of gender is convergent or divergent. The findings show that the meaning load carried by embedded images (action plus reaction), together with verbal and mental processes of perception, provides essential cues for fostering progressive gender discourses.

Author Biographies

Arsenio Jesús Moya Guijarro, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha
Jesús Moya-Guijarro is a Professor at the University of Castilla-La Mancha. He has published several articles on multimodal discourses in international journals such as Atlantis, Review of Cognitive Linguistics, Word, Functions of Language, Journal of Pragmatics and Text and Talk. Among other books, he is co-editor of A Multimodal Approach to Challenging Gender Stereotypes in Children’s Picture Books (Routledge, 2022).
Roberto Martínez Mateo, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha
Roberto Martínez Mateo is a Lecturer at the Faculty of Education in the University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain. He has published research papers in renowned national and international journals (Miscelanea, Ocnos, Perspectives: Studies in Translatology, Journal of Language Teaching and Research, etc.) and contributed to a number of edited volumes (Translating Picturebooks - Routledge, Taboo in Discourse - Peter Lang).


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