Positive Racial Identity Development and Books for Children

Angela Staff Image

One of the reasons I love working with children is that they see things that many ignore or choose to silence. Babies, especially, are absorbing so much of the world around them.

We may coo at them and call them tater tots or sweet peas, but they are also rapidly developing! One thing young children notice is race. Do you know how early children notice race?

Drumroll.

Please.

Children begin noticing race as early as three months old! By six months old, a Black child will notice and differentiate that I am white and they are not.

What was your guess?

Additionally, children begin building racial bias by as early as three years old. This is also a time when growing early literacy skills through book sharing is particularly encouraged by educators and librarians.

This information and more is collected and developed in the University of Pittsburgh’s Positive Racial Identity Development in Early Education report and related initiatives. The P.R.I.D.E.  team focuses on fostering positive racial identity for Black children through community work, education and professional development.

The report itself also surveyed families right in Pittsburgh, which makes it particularly relevant for librarians, educators and caregivers across our city.

Positive racial identity is defined as a positive attitude and belief about one’s racial group. Positive racial and ethnic identity has been linked to higher resilience, self-efficacy, self-esteem and school grades. Sharing diverse books and books that act as mirrors to children of color are important actions to take as a caregiver or educator to encourage positive racial identity.

The act of sharing stories featuring Black characters results in positive racial identity and joy. When Black children see themselves in stories, they can see themselves as important and can experience a sense of belonging.

I hope in some of the resources shared below, you can find a story that reflects the skin tones and experiences of the children in your lives as we all work towards a world where all children of color feel positive racial identity early in life.

Explore the work of the P.R.I.D.E. Team:

Visit the P.R.I.D.E. website to read the report, watch videos, listen to podcast and learn more. 

Check out titles on these booklists:

Cover for the book, "Hey Black Child" by Useni Eugene Perkins.

Here to Help: Books about Racial Identity

Cover for the book, "Black Is a Rainbow Color" by Angela Joy.

Racial Representation in Books for Children and Teens

This page links to African American Booklists; Black, Indigenous and People of Color in Books for Kids; Race and Social Justice in Books for Kids. There are also booklists for older kids and teens!

Cover for the book, "Nana Akua Goes To School" by Tricia Elam Walker.

Black Joy, Positive Racial Identity and Storytelling

You can sign up for a free library card here. If you are new to our eResources, check out these tutorial videos on how to get started.

Looking for a good book, album, movie or TV show? We’re happy to recommend them to you! Use this Personalized Recommendations form to send us some information about what you like and we’ll curate a list just for you.

If you have any additional questions, you can contact a librarian through FacebookInstagram or Twitter. You can also call us at 412.622.3114 or email us at info@carnegielibrary.org.

A young black child looks at a the screen

Kids & Teens African American Booklists

Learn More