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Shy, Not Anti-Social: How to Include and Represent Shy Children in the Library

Eileen Chen


Shyness in children is a phenomenon often overlooked as a trait that every child will “grow out of” or stigmatized as an emotional or behavioral anomaly, by caregivers as well as teachers. Yet, academic research on supporting shy children in the context of library youth services is scarce.

Unlike social anxiety or introversion, shyness is a lay term that is more difficult to pinpoint, yet inherently meaningful. Asendorpf defines the term broadly as, “various forms of modest, reserved, wary, inhibited, anxious, or withdrawn behaviors in social situations.” While this may serve as a functioning umbrella for a variety of behaviors, not all children who identify as being shy exemplify all of these behaviors.

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