Early childhood classrooms provide an environment where children have many of their first social experiences, especially with others of diverse backgrounds. Studies of racial and ethnic concept development have primarily been experimental and highly prompted; little is known about racialized learning experiences during typical interactions in early childhood education. This qualitative study examines shared reading of books with racial–ethnic themes in order to further identify how young children and early childhood educators explore and discuss racial and ethnic concepts. Participants included 18 children and 2 caregivers from an early childhood classroom in a university child development laboratory in the United States. Group reading times were video recorded and transcribed during a 3-week period. Results show that participants engaged in discussions surrounding basic components of anti-bias goals (such as phenotypic characteristics, similarities and differences) but stopped short of conversations related to superiority, inferiority, stereotypes or hurtful behaviors. Implications of the study outline the importance of early childhood programs building on children’s current knowledge and experiences around race and ethnicity and creating space to build educators’ confidence in exploring personal beliefs and biases when incorporating anti-bias principles in early childhood classrooms.
- Anti-Bias education
- early childhood education
- racialized identity development