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Doll tales: foregrounding children's voices in research

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This paper discusses how the use of Persona dolls in research is an effective means of enabling children (ages 4-6) to share life experiences openly. It investigated the place of race in the peer choice of preschool children. Two key research questions drove the inquiry: (1) Do four- to six-year-old children know their own racial identity? (2) Do four- to six-year-old children choose friends based on racial characteristics? Semi-structured interviews using Persona dolls were conducted, with the dolls acting as conduits through which the children engaged in conversations with the researcher. Findings revealed that children were aware of stereotypes and discrimination. One minority child showed deep empathy with the posed dilemma of a dark skinned Persona doll and her inability to establish friendships. Implications are shared with regard to the significance of Persona dolls, play and life stories in presenting the views of young children.
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Keywords: Persona dolls; children's voices; race and ethnicity; research with preschool children; story

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Early Childhood and Special Needs Academic Group, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Publication date: 01 April 2011

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