“Zebra world”: The promotion of imperial stereotypes in a children’s book

A1 Journal article (refereed)

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Layne H., Alemanji A.
Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd
Publication year: 2015
Journal: Power and Education
Volume number: 7
Issue number: 2
Start page: 181
End page: 195
ISSN: 1757-7438


Learning materials have become significant determinants of quality
learning environments for young children. This study presents an example
of such learning material in the Finnish context – a children’s book
entitled: Bibi muuttaa Suomeen (translated: Bibi Moves to Finland) by
Katja Kallio and Maggie Lindholm (2005). The main concern of this
article is how the ‘us’ and ‘them’ (Finland vs. Africa) meet or co-exist
together in the book, which describes a young girl, Bibi, her life in a
‘traditional’ African village and subsequent move to Finland. The
positive intention of the book is to familiarize Finnish children with
different cultures and the life of immigrant children. In this study
concepts such as ‘Whiteness’, normality and belonging are discussed
within a critical approach to intercultural education. The data consist
of a focus group interview conducted for student teachers and our own
analysis as two experts in the book. The material was analysed with the
help of critical discourse analysis and a critical incident approach.
The results show that despite good intentions to educate children about
immigration and other people in a morepositive light, the book serves
to maintain the social structure of Finnish society as White,
and superior to ‘others’ in Africa. It is important that teachers and
teacher educators are able to challenge this type of representation of
the world and of immigration in children’s books and learning materials.


Intercultural education, ‘othering’, racism, stereotypes

Last updated on 2020-04-04 at 08:27