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Deborah Moon

Creating a Conscious Culture: Race in Children’s Picture Books

Today, the issue of race remains at the forefront of many conversations and headlines. To address this, the question arises, how can we move towards a more conscious culture? 

We develop our understandings of the world through experiences beginning in childhood. Experience is not limited to interactions with the physical world, but also includes exposure to other peoples and worlds through picture books. Picture books provide readers with a wealth of information in different forms, from the visuals, such as depictions of characters, to the text itself. With the importance of reading with young children constantly being emphasized, picture books are an accessible platform for important lessons and experiences with other races and cultures.

This paper begins with a discussion of how humans process visual information, particularly faces. Drawing on child development theories, a connection is drawn between familiarity with and understanding of other races as a result of exposure to other races through experience.

Due to the abundance of children’s picture books today, I chose to limit this study to a sample of children’s picture books available to the Philadelphia public through the Philadelphia Free Library. Through careful consideration and awareness, it is possible to bring together a collection of books that will both show visually and teach through the story the importance of racial sensitivity.

Sector A: Science and Philosophy of Seeing


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