Sharon McQueen is a sociocultural historian of children's books, and biographer of children's book creators, with a particular focus on the 1930s and 40s. Dr. McQueen’s research adds to our understanding of children’s literature and library youth services from a print culture perspective. It draws from, and contributes to, history (specifically social history, cultural history, the history of the book, and the history of reading), the visual and performing arts, reception studies, iconology, print culture, popular culture, American studies, and the sociology of literature—as well as children’s literature and library studies.


​ Sociocultural History

Sharon McQueen is currently working on a book based on her doctoral dissertation, The Story of “The Story of Ferdinand”: The Creation of a Cultural Icon. The work is a sociocultural history that explores possible reasons for the phenomenal reception of the 1936 U.S. picture book, The Story of Ferdinand, and the consequences of a work of such impact. Drawing upon reception theory, and making extensive use of historical research methods, Dr. McQueen’s investigation looks at the various influences that affected this particular book’s creation and reception. Her study focuses on the phenomenon of The Story of Ferdinand and explores the work’s extraordinary success, isolating factors that gave this particular book agency in its various contexts. In a broader sense, the study explores factors that contribute to the creation of a cultural icon.

A dissertation-based article, “The Feminization of Ferdinand: Perceptions of Gender Nonconformity in a Classic Children’s Picture Book,” has received the 2015 Justin Winsor Prize, “presented annually to the author of an outstanding essay embodying original historical research on a significant subject of library history.”


Sharon McQueen is currently working on biographies of both the editor and the illustrator of The Story of Ferdinand, May Massee and Robert Lawson. May Massee was an important player in the development of modern children’s literature. She has been credited with raising the standards of twentieth-century children’s books in the United States and she can certainly be counted among those leaders who ushered in what came to be called “The Golden Thirties” of picture books, or “the golden age of picture books.” Robert Lawson is the only children’s book creator to have been awarded the highest United States honors for both children’s book illustration (the Caldecott Medal) and children’s writing (the Newbery Medal). He has maintained this distinction for over seventy years.

Dr. McQueen’s biography of May Hill Arbuthnot, legendary educator and children's literature expert, won the ALISE/LMC Paper Award and has been published in Children and Libraries (vol. 13 no.2), the journal of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA).