Invisible means Unimportant

On this first chilly September morning in New York, I received a link to this fantastic blog acknowledging the impact early education and children’s books have on how our kids see themselves and the world around them. Thank you to my fellow indy mom, Ruth Mullen for putting something important into my Inbox. Thank you also goes to Sharon Chang for posting My 3-Year-Old has Experienced Racism (and yours probably has too) in Racism Review.

diversity_tinakugler_optimage Tina Kugler

This blog, with it’s startling statistics confirms how a lack of diversity in children’s books is a first step toward the perpetuation of systematic racism. The excerpt of the blog that really got me was…

In one of the most influential works on anti-bias early education, Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves, Louise Derman-Sparks & Julie Olsen Edwards address the omission of diversity as a major dynamic of advantage and disadvantage in early learning materials. They reframe under- and over-representation as a form of societal (in)visibility that works to undermine some children’s sense of self at the same time it teaches other children that they are more deserving than others. They write:

“Young children are learning about who is and isn’t important. Invisibility erases identity and experience; visibility affirms reality. When children see themselves and their families reflected in their early childhood setting, they feel affirmed and that they belong. When children’s identities and families are invisible, the opposite happens. Children feel that they are unimportant and do not belong. These lessons from societal visibility or invisibility are among the most powerful messages children receive…Children absorb these messages every day, often without the adults in their lives even knowing what the children are learning” (pp.13-4). Read entire blog

Have you ever considered the invisibility of people of color in children’s books your child’s first exposure to racism? Comments welcomed!



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  1. Ruth Mullen
    Posted September 7, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Let a five-year-old teach us about the importance of diversity: my daughter came home from kindergarten one day and said “Mom, why do I have to be Asian? Because NOBODY’S ASIAN!”

    • Posted September 8, 2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Thank you for sharing this blog and acknowledging a real conversation with your kindergartner. We have the opportunity to help increase diversity at our independent schools on October 6, 2p-5:30p – RIISE Fall Boutique Recruitment Event – Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY. We can effect change – as a parent tell someone to register today

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