A Point Cook PhD candidate is challenging family stereotypes in children’s picture books.

Victoria University researcher Sarah Mokrzycki said family in kids’ books was predominantly white with a mum, dad and often a boy protagonist and failed to represent Australia’s 51,000 foster families, 99,000 step families or 961,000 single-parent families.

It’s a theme that jumped out at her four years ago when Ms Mokrzycki and her husband became foster carers.

“I hadn’t really been consciously aware of it until I started fostering and realised there are no books for my children,” she said.

“It’s not just foster families – other families aren’t represented as well, and why aren’t they in picture books?”

Ms Mokrzycki is writing and illustrating her own children’s picture book that celebrates family diversity as part of her PhD.

Last month, she was awarded top prize in VU’s annual Three-Minute Thesis competition, where she had to present the essence of her research to a non-academic audience within three minutes.

She then progressed to the Asia-Pacific finals of the competition, where she made it to the top 10.

“It just sounded like a really fun idea, trying to put together everything that you’re doing – a three-year, full-time amount of work – into three minutes,” she said.