Comparing the Effects of Protagonist Race on Preschoolers’ Engagement in Book Reading

Jessica K. Hardy, Robert Pennington, Renea Griffin, Jill Jacobi-Vessels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the current study, single case research methodology was used to examine whether preschool children’s engagement in book reading activities was greater when the protagonist in the book was of the same or different race as the child participant. Initiations, accurate responses to questions, passive engagement, teacher redirections, and child preference were measured. There was no functional relation demonstrating children’s engagement was greater when read books with protagonists of a corresponding race to the child. However, the non-experimental measure of preference demonstrated that children, when given an opportunity, more often chose books with a protagonist of the same race. Findings are discussed relative to the common recommendation in early childhood education to use diverse children’s books.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)781-791
Number of pages11
JournalEarly Childhood Education Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Children’s literature
  • Engagement
  • Preschool
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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