Shuffling and Sighing

Children’s literature is traditionally seen as a carrier of various ideologies as well as an important factor in children’s socialisation, for example in terms of the representation of age. A children’s book that portrays older characters as frail people with old-fashioned habits will influence the young reader’s perception of older people in their own environment, perhaps resulting in them viewing the older generation with a negative attitude. Vice versa, when children often come into contact with stories in which older characters walk their own paths full of zest for life, they are likely to view older people differently in real life. In this article, Lindsey Geybels argues that not only children’s literature, but also fiction for young adults and adults, has an impact on the perception of age, specifically older adulthood, among its readers. In a corpus of 41 Dutch books written for different ages, the representation of older men and women is studied using the verbs, grammatical possessions and adjectives associated with characters of this age.

Geybels, Lindsey. ‘Shuffling Softly, Sighing Deeply: A Digital Inquiry into Representations of Older Men and Women in Literature for Different Ages‘.

Soc. Sci. (2023): 12(3)