What’s going on down under? Part 1: Portrayals of culture in award-winning Australian young adult literature

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Books published in Australia are strong choices for youth collections in other English-speaking countries because of the shared language and the use of different vocabulary and cultural expressions, enlisting readers to think critically about meaning and context. This article is the second in a two-part series exploring portrayals of culture in two popular Australian young adult literature awards: the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s (CBCA) Book of the Year: Older Readers, chosen by adults, and the Centre for Youth Literature’s Gold Inky Awards, chosen by young adults. Using a critical content analysis approach, the research examined the twenty-four winners from 2007 to 2018 for depictions of nine cultural constructs including class, disability,gender, immigration, Indigenous Australians, language, the LGBTQIA community,race/ethnicity/nationality, and religion. Findings suggest that class is an ever-present cultural element in the titles, especially in the CBCA award winners, and issues of class privilege and disadvantage are linked to other constructs, notably gender, immigration, language, and race/ethnicity/nationality. While two titles portrayed Indigenous Australians authentically, this construct was the least represented in the sample and reflects a gap in the awards and Australian youth publishing overall, as noted by other researchers. These titles offer an alternative perspective to issues affecting young adults on a global level such as immigration, racism, and sexism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-34
Number of pages34
JournalThe Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


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