Representation for children is so important as it helps promote self-confidence and self-esteem of who we are. We all witness ideas around us in the media, books and products. Kids pay attention to these representations in many ways which can leave a long-lasting impact on them. As such, we need to ensure that cultural diversity exists in our kids environment to help them feel a sense of belonging but also to develop kindness and respect for others in the world.
Why is the representation of kids important?
Kids are inspired by what they see happening around them. The recognition children make through cartoons, movies, books, toys, and other resources play a vital role in their development and shapes their perspectives. Kids learn to empathize, be kind and recognize the racial differences of others. Since we live in an ever so multi-cultural world, it is so important for kids to understand their own culture and surroundings, as well as of others. The awareness they build based on values, respect, and kindness for people of similar and dissimilar races helps carve out their personalities as better human beings.
Representation of kids in media
Media is a broad medium for exposure to every age group, especially kids. According to a survey, the average screen time of a kid ranges from four to six hours a day which includes using a mobile phone, watching television, or playing games on the computer. During this time, they idealize their favourite characters and try to become like them that is why it is necessary to include multicultural representation in media for kids to observe themselves as well as various races.
Media brings an opportunity for children to visualize themselves and learn things that are new to them. Kids feel a sense of acknowledgment and empowerment when they see a character possessing similar features as them. On the other hand, the media also acts as a key to another world in which kids are unfamiliar with the existence of other people of colour, culture, beliefs, and backgrounds. It creates acceptance among kids, and they welcome people of a different race when they get the chance in real life rather than ignoring or being racist towards them.
Representation of kids in books
Reading books is always beneficial for people of every age, but especially kids. Diverse representation is important to teach kids an understanding how different people live and how it’s important to respect different cultures in our world.
Finding appropriate culturally diverse books still continues to be challenging but is easier than before. These days, we have more amazing books to share with our children to teach them acceptance and compassion for every individual. It’s such a wonderful experience to share books with children that include characters who may have the similar traits as their child. In doing so, this provides them with a sense of belonging but also inspires them to see they too could make a difference in the world.
Representation of kids in toys
Just like media and books, representation in toys really matters and is often forgotten. Diversity in the toy box can have an even bigger impact than you could expect. Since kids devote so much of their time learning about the world through play, having a diverse toy box is just as important if not the most important. When children see toys that represent, resemble and depict themselves, it can truly have such a positive impact on a child’s development and self esteem.
What happens when there is no representation?
An inadequate or opposing representation of kids in the world may cause adverse effects. For example, when there is an underrepresentation of a specific race, kids may feel less significant than the others. They may feel like they do not belong in this world and that they do not matter. The feeling of lower self-esteem can carry into their adulthood and impact how they view themselves and their abilities.
Resources that boost the representation of kids in the society
With changing mindsets around the world, we can find abundant and better resources to help our kids feel confident as they are. We’ve taken the time to put together some of our recommendations:
- We are Golden, by Alice Tsui
- Eyes That Kiss in the Corners, and Eyes That Speak to the Stars, by Joanna Ho
- Juna’s Jar, by Jane Bahk and Felicia Hoshino
- Lift, by Minh Le and Dan Santat
- Friends are Friends Forever, by Dane Liu
- Our Favorite Day, by Joowon Oh
- Super Satya Saves the Day, by Raakhee Mirchandani and Tim Palin
- Bilal Cooks Daal, by Aisha Saeed
- Our Favorite Day, by Joowon Oh
- The Katha Chest, by Radhiah Chowdhury
- Little Ladoo’s First Trip to India, by Vaishali Sahni & Sindhu Senthilnathan
- Turning Red
- Big Hero 6
- Finding ‘Ohana
- Joeydolls is a boutique toy store, offering the world’s first Asian diverse children toy dolls. We offer the most adorable and playful dolls for your little one. Joeydolls are the perfect companion for children and are inspired by each of the cultures within Asia. We make a wide range of dolls with different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds to celebrate Asian culture.
- Tiny Sponge offers unique Asian multicultural children’s toys, play food, bilingual Chinese books, baby crinkle books, flashcards and more.
- Izzy Laro makes culturally aware and ethically made children toys
- Ish Dolls makes diverse toys that celebrate Hindu culture
- Little Ladoo is a South Asian cultural toy shop for children who is committed to bringing diversity to the playroom.
- Every Girl Dolls creates a beautiful South Asian doll that is representative of South Asian children. Their goal is to teach young girls to love themselves, their roots and their culture
To sum up, it is significant for kids to observe the representation of themselves and others. It illustrates different ethnicities and races, nurtures acceptance and understanding of cultures, shapes their identity, and uplifts the spirits and confidence of kids. As parents, we have to raise our children as welcoming, easygoing, and fair. To that end, it makes sense for children to represent themselves in society.