Fostering Diversity and Inclusion in Young Children. Article by By Fawzia Reza

'Even toddlers who cannot sit still for a long period can be introduced to diverse cultures'

Fawzia Reza writes: Children’s literature has great potential for shaping the minds of new generations. Societies where people from diverse cultures interact on a daily basis face the challenges of discrimination and prejudice. When there is a pronounced bias in favor of the dominant majority, minorities may feel marginalized. As citizens of a global society, we must become cognizant of our biases and be more inclusive in our practices. One way to do so is by highlighting diversity in a positive manner using young children’s literature to help young readers develop an appreciation of everyone around them, regardless of their religious or cultural background or the color of their skin.

When I was a young girl growing up in Karachi, Pakistan, I often read books by a British author, Enid Blyton. The main characters were all white and I began to associate white people with the English language. For a long time, I thought that if any book was in English, the characters would be white. During my studies to become an educator, I read about the “doll test” conducted by Clark and Clark.1 In the study, Black children were shown two dolls that were identical, except one doll was black and the other was white. The children were asked questions about what they saw. Most study subjects attributed only positive qualities to the white dolls and only negative qualities to the black doll. I asked myself why the children had such reactions. What made them feel that way? I believe their responses were the result of being marginalized and underrepresented...

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