A Story of Negotiation and Agency

An Exploration of Power in Click Clack Moo and Contemporary Picturebooks


  • Suzette Youngs University of Northern Colorado
  • Stacy Loyd


critical literacy, visual literacy, picturebook reading, power


Learning to question power relationships, symbols of power, and how power is used and negotiated in children’s literature through critical dialogue can support young readers to move toward a social justice mindset. The authors of this article share critical strategies and analytic tools to support teachers and readers to analyze types of power, power shifts, potential injustices, and how characters gained power and agency in contemporary picturebooks. We highlight how to attend to the visual design elements and peritextual features to analyze power structure across the visual narrative as well. The authors model using these strategies and tools through their own analysis of a cornerstone text showcasing how to use these strategies in an interpretive, interactive read-aloud. A text set is provided that describes the types of power, symbols of power, and themes within each book. To promote opportunities to dive deeper into the analysis we included some older, popular children’s picturebooks to encourage readers to consider a known text through a new lens.


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First page of Youngs and Loyd article