Julie Rech


Fall 2023



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Julia Reimer

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Sheila Williams Ridge


Influenced by the researcher’s own experiences being confronted with young children’s curiosities about race during storytimes, this work investigates educator attitudes, approaches, and abilities as they pertain to broaching race topics in early childhood classrooms. Specifically this work seeks to understand To what degree do early childhood educators in Minnesota feel prepared to engage in discussions of race during shared reading experiences with their students? It reviews existing literature on bias and attitudes towards race topics within early childhood education, multicultural picture books and critical literacy, and anti-bias and anti-racist education. Employing constructivist and transformative paradigms and grounded in the principles of Critical Race Theory, an explanatory mixed methods approach was used to collect data from early childhood educators across Minnesota via an online survey followed by virtual individual interviews. Survey results indicated that the educators reached in this study represent a specific subset of early childhood educators who have a higher educational attainment and greater work experience than is typical in this workforce. Survey participants reported being generally confident in their ability to discuss race during shared reading experiences. The interviews then offered a closer look at the factors that may have contributed to participants’ relatively high level of preparedness to discuss race in their early childhood classrooms. Analysis identified gaps in Minnesota’s early childhood education professional development training opportunities and the value of deep reflection on experiences of forced confrontation with one’s race identity. This work recommends the development of high quality courses dedicated to addressing race topics during shared reading experiences in early childhood classrooms followed by the requirement of such courses to improve all educators’ understanding of this topic and ability to apply the skills in their practice


Early Childhood, Anti-bias Education, Anti-racist Education, Critical Literacy








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