Does connecting with a character on the page actually make us more willing to connect with a person like the character in the world? What evidence is there that a project like the Welcoming Library can make a difference?
“Research, led by psychologists Lindsey Cameron in England, Cristina Stefanile in Italy, and Krista Aronson in the United States, has indicated that the inclusion of these cross-group images [in picture books] encourages cross-group play.
In a study investigating how kids respond to cross-racial depictions in picture books, Aronson and her colleagues randomly assigned children to two groups. The first group was read books that depicted children from different races playing together and having fun. The second group was read similar books, but with children from only one racial group.
After six weeks, they found that children in the first group reported greater comfort and interest in playing across difference than children in the second group. Perhaps even more importantly, the first group reported that these positive attitudes remained three months after the study was completed. “
Source: Aronson, K.M. O’Brien, A.S. (2014) How Cross-Racial Scenes in Picture Books Build Acceptance. School Library Journal, blog.