Biracial/Multiracial Children and Families in Picture Books

By Joan Scanlon-McMath and Margaret King.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Forty years ago a five year old child in a Manhattenville Nursery School walked up to her teacher, held out her book, and asked, “Why are they always white?” (Larrick, 1965). Even though Baxley (2008) points to biracial individuals becoming a fast growing segment of today’s population, mixed-race children in 2009 might well have the same question.
Biracial children are often invisible in society because people often categorize them by their dominant physical racial features. For example, if a biracial child has an Asian mother and an African-American father, they are very likely to initially be considered either Asian or African-American based solely on their predominant physical features. Until recently, when completing applications and other forms requiring racial identification, biracial children or their parents would have to choose “other” as their classification. Fortunately today the climate is changing, and many applications and forms now include a category labeled biracial or multiracial. In 2000, for the first time, the U.S. Census allowed people to choose more than one racial category to identify them. However, even with the acknowledgment that there are people who share biracial/multiracial as a category and there is a noticeable increase in interracial relationships and marriages, it is still very difficult to determine the number of biracial children in the United States. Based on the 2000 census, the approximate number of children identified with more than one race is 2.9 million (Armas, 2001).

Keywords: Biracial/Multiracial Young Children, Classrooms for Young Children, Picture Books, Criteria for High Quality Picture Books

International Journal of the Book, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp.157-164. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 728.076KB).

Dr. Joan Scanlon-McMath

Professor of Early Childhood Education and Children's Literature, College of Education, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, USA

Joan Scanlon McMath teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Children’s Literature and Early Childhood Education at Ohio University. Her research interests center on the relationship between literature and literacy as well as the literature of diversity. She has published in several journals and has been chosen University Professor four times by students in a campus wide selection.

Dr. Margaret King

Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, USA


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