The portrayal of girl characters in selected children's books in Kenya
Muleka, Joseph H.
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This study is a literary analysis of the portrayal of girl characters in children's books by Kenyan writers. E. Alembi, A. B. Odaga, D. Mailu, P. Kola, F. Imbuga, M. I. Moraa, G. N. Kamau, and E. Orchandson-Mazrui do the analysis with close reference to selected children’s books. The study is predicted on the premise that characterization in the books that children read is crucial in their character development, thus raising a need to investigate how character portrayal is done in children's books. In particular, the study examines how girl characters are portrayed in a literature emanating from a majorly patriarchal setting like the Kenyan one; a setting, which often privileges men over women. We carried out an analytical study of characterization and style in the selected books through thorough reading of the books and responding to set out questions. While we based our examination of characters on the parameter of sex and gender, style was considered on the basis of how language is used to bring about gender differentiation. The findings of the study reveal that the majority of Kenyan writers for children reflect in their writings the society's stereotypes about girl children, but a few are trying to emancipate their girl characters. The study predicts that stereotyping of girl characters may not only impede the social, mental and emotional growth of girl children, but could also prejudice the way their boy counterparts view them. In view of such an eventually, the study advocates for a literature that will seek to emancipate girl children, enabling them to compete equitably with boy children.