Epistemologies in the Text of Children's Books: Native- and non-Native-authored books

Morteza Dehghani*, Megan Bang, Douglas Medin, Ananda Marin, Erin Leddon, Sandra Waxman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


An examination of artifacts provides insights into the goals, practices, and orientations of the persons and cultures who created them. Here, we analyze storybook texts, artifacts that are a part of many children's lives. We examine the stories in books targeted for 4-8-year-old children, contrasting the texts generated by Native American authors versus popular non-Native authors. We focus specifically on the implicit and explicit 'epistemological orientations' associated with relations between human beings and the rest of nature. Native authors were significantly more likely than non-Native authors to describe humans and the rest of nature as psychologically close and embedded in relationships. This pattern converges well with evidence from a behavioral task in which we probed Native (from urban inter-tribal and rural communities) and non-Native children's and adults' attention to ecological relations. We discuss the implications of these differences for environmental cognition and science learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2133-2151
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Issue number13
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Children's books
  • Cultural artifacts
  • Early childhood cognition
  • Epistemology
  • Native American
  • Science education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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