Voices 16 Feb, 2021 Source: The Conversation by Ping Tian, Helen Caple

Early exposure to diverse story characters, including in ethnicity, gender and ability, helps young people develop a strong sense of identity and belonging. It is also crucial in cultivating compassion towards others.

Children from minority backgrounds rarely see themselves reflected in the books they’re exposed to. Research over the past two decades shows the world presented in children’s books is overwhelmingly white, male and middle class.

A 2020 study in four Western Australian childcare centres showed only 18 per cent of books available included non-white characters. Animal characters made up around half the books available and largely led “human” lives, adhering to the values of middle-class Caucasians.

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