From the Pages of Young Children: Reflecting Back and Looking Forward
NAEYC will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2026—100 years dedicated to young children and the professionals who educate and care for them. Many people have contributed to NAEYC’s nearly 100-year legacy, including to its periodicals. Did you know, for example, that Barbara Bowman contributed 15 pieces to YC and that Margaret Mead, Erik Eriksen, Albert Bandura, Urie Bronfenbrenner, and Anna Freud were contributors too? Or that articles that mention blocks appeared in Young Children over 1,000 times? Or that 1945 was the first time YC highlighted the issue of teacher shortages and questions about teacher preparation.
What is now Young Children began in April 1945 as the Bulletin of the National Association for Nursery Education. Although the title has evolved, it remains the flagship journal for NAEYC, striving to combine a strong research base with practical suggestions and to address important topics from multiple perspectives.
Over the years, YC has amassed a rich collection of articles for early childhood professionals. Some ideas and practices in its pages have withstood the test of time (and more research). Others have been challenged, rethought, and revised. This work has been done alongside NAEYC’s development of foundational resources on developmentally appropriate practice (DAP), advancing equity, and other critical components of early childhood education.
In this special series, we share a selection of articles from the Young Children archive, which is accessible to NAEYC members at NAEYC.org/resources/pubs/yc/archive. (Select the link for the digital archive.) Our intention is to remind and reflect as well as to stimulate and inspire. Admittedly, many more pages could be featured, and we hope you will look through the archive and find your own treasure trove of hidden gems.
Revisit the YC archive with us, and consider how these ideas apply to your thinking and practices today!
“We mis-teach European history, as we mis-teach American history [. . .] Basically, what we should be teaching is the whole story, the truth. That’s the bottom line.”
What should be taught about race and culture and who is represented in the curriculum are pressing current issues. While the opening quotation could have come from today’s papers, Asa Hilliard III, PhD, spoke these words to The Washington Post in 1989.
Hilliard’s writings and contributions are vast. During his lifetime, he became known around the world for his work in and outside of academia, based on his training in educational psychology and his focus on African history and culture. He centered African history and culture in teaching, learning, and public policy, and he delved into child development, assessment practices, and teaching through the lens of social, historical, and cultural contexts.
Hilliard held several high-level positions. These included dean of the School of Education at San Francisco State University, the Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Urban Education at Georgia State University, and founding member of the National Black Child Development Institute. He received many honors, including the Morehouse College “Candle in the Dark Award in Education” and the American Evaluation Association’s President’s Award.
Over 40 years ago, Hilliard wrote two pieces in Young Children. His Viewpoint piece, “How Should We Assess Children’s Social Competence?”, was published in 1978. His second article, which appeared as part of the International Year of the Child 1979, was “Respect the Child’s Culture.” Succinctly and clearly, he outlined essential understandings that directly link to current thinking and calls to action. “We know, or ought to know, that the culture of any child is never a deficit. Rather it is learning’s chief asset [emphasis in original].”
To read these important articles, visit the NAEYC archive's July 1978 and July 1979 collections. (Note that Archive contents are only available to NAEYC members.) As you read, consider
- What concepts and practices in his articles resonate with current thinking about child development and learning?
- What, if anything, has changed or been challenged since his writing?
- Where can you draw a link between these pieces and NAEYC’s revised position statement on DAP? Where can you link to NAEYC’s position statement on advancing equity?
- How do his articles connect with the work you are doing with and/or for children? What is one takeaway that you would like to apply in your own setting?