Children Tell about Skin Colour – Small Stories from Namibia and Finland

Dublin Core


Children Tell about Skin Colour – Small Stories from Namibia and Finland


M.A. Thesis (Education) - "The aim of this research is to find out what kind of perceptions Namibian and Finnish children have on skin color. Previous research indicates that children actively use skin color –related vocabulary and are able to see differences amongst themselves. They are also aware of the power and meanings attached to different skin colors. I hope this research can offer early childhood educators and other people working with children new ideas and practical examples on how to discuss the topic with children. The research question is: what do Namibian and Finnish children tell about skin color? The foundation of the research lays on an interdisciplinary approach, which combines elements from cross-cultural and narrative research as well as childhood research. Two theoretical approaches, post-colonial theory and Critical Race Theory (CRT), form the theoretical framework for this research. The research data consists of 59 short, semistructured interviews of 5-6-year old children from Namibia and Finland. The interviews were partly based on pictures and storytelling. The data was analyzed inductively but theory-guided using modified content analysis. Part of the data was examined closer with a narrative approach to produce re-told small stories which were then examined together with the whole data by the means of dialogical re-telling. The results indicate that children talk about skin color if they are given the opportunity to do it. Finnish children in this research used more color-related vocabulary than Namibian children. Finnish children also linked together skin color, language and nationality, especially Finnishness with whiteness and nonwhiteness with foreign language. Children from both countries expressed colorblind views in their answers. They also talked about skin color -related beauty conceptions. Stories about skin color -based discrimination were told by both Namibians and Finns, but Namibian children were more open than the Finnish children to the possibility to be friends with a child whose skin color was different from their own. Practical conclusions of the research emphasize the educators’ ability to recognize the possible unequal stuctures and discriminating practices of the daycare environment and the courage to talk about skin color -related issues with children. Read-aloud situations, Storycrafting and picture-based conversations would be good starting points for the discussions with the children"


Laura Ketonen



University of Oulu









Laura Ketonen, “Children Tell about Skin Colour – Small Stories from Namibia and Finland,” Namibia Digital Repository, accessed May 20, 2024,

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