The US student body is rapidly diversifying, but remains unmatched by the teachers who serve in their classrooms. There is a growing understanding that teachers, particularly White teachers, must explicitly and thoughtfully engage in anti-bias and anti-racist practices in their classrooms. Our nation, and correspondingly our schools, have witnessed or engaged in tide swells of social activism leading to increased awareness of how systems of oppression have broad-reaching impacts on our society broadly and our students specifically. It can feel difficult or uncomfortable to address issues like privilege, activism, and social justice with children, however, especially when this very concept is the topic of much political and legislative debate currently. Teachers of young children already engage in daily literacy learning, and these experiences provide the perfect opportunity to use carefully chosen picturebooks to scaffold students’ perspective taking, reflection, and thoughtful discourse, but these moments do not happen accidentally. In this thought piece, we describe some of the pivotal cultural moments over recent years, how children’s literature has responded to and amplified these moments, and strategies teachers can use to ground anti-bias/anti-racist learning opportunities within literacy learning using picturebooks highlighting diversity. We also provide links to instructional resources and culturally responsive book titles for educators to support their forays into anti-racist teaching in their early childhood classrooms.
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Children’s Literature Cited
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Kaczmarczyk, A., Allee, K. & Roberts, S.K. Reading, Writing, and (Anti-)Racist Picturebooks: Reframing Literacy Engagements. Early Childhood Educ J (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-023-01502-x