I came across this flyer the other day at my kitchen table, I believe it fell out of a newspaper. I was unfamiliar with the product, although I had ordered a custom Christmas sweater online earlier in the month so the existence of custom storybooks did not strike me as odd. As I drank my coffee I pondered some of the interesting questions this product raises regarding identity in the storybooks. The books appear to drop the child’s name and picture throughout the story, as though the child was always meant to be there, which would seem to raise some serious questions regarding bias.
As discussed in my earlier blog entitled Early observations on identity, ethics, and Zambia children like to be able to identify with the characters in books they are reading. This raises an interesting question of what happens to the psyche of a child when the find themselves arbitrarily dropped into a book and story-line that is at odds with their culture? Does it bring about feelings of inclusion or heighten feelings of non-inclusion?
Perhaps the stories are carefully selected to minimize factors regarding culture, but seeing Barbie on the flyer cover leads me to think that is possibly not the case. So I’m left me wondering how these “insert name here” books deal with this issue. Presumably they get requests from children from all walks of life. Do the pictures and topics in these books reflect the full range of this variation?
image was delivered to residence [end of Nov, 2015]
Niagara region, Ontario, CANADA