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Children's Literature: Multicultural Literature

This is the research guide for Children's Literature.

Guidelines for Selecting Multicultural Literature

The following guidelines for material selection were developed by adopting recommendations from various language arts and multicultural educators: Beilke (1986), Harada (1995), Harris (1991), and Pang, Colvin, Tran, & Yang (1992). They recommend that multicultural literature contain:

•šPositive portrayals of characters with authentic and realistic behaviors, to avoid stereotypes of a particular cultural group.
•šAuthentic illustrations to enhance the quality of the text, since illustrations can have a strong impact on children.
•šPluralistic themes to foster belief in cultural diversity as a national asset as well as reflect the changing nature of this country's population.
š•Contemporary as well as historical fiction that captures changing trends in the roles played by minority groups in America.
•šHigh literary quality, including strong plots and well-developed characterization.
•šHistorical accuracy when appropriate.
•šReflections of the cultural values of the characters.
•šSettings in the United States that help readers build an accurate conception of the culturally diverse nature of this country and the legacy of various minority groups.

Strategies for Teaching Multicultural Literature


•Teach book reading behaviors explicitly: responding to known answer questions

•Make the books come alive for the children. Make the story interactive rather than passive learning. 

•Introduce the students to the literature (not just expose). Instead of just reading a multicultural book to the kids, create a sustained engagement with the literature to teach the kids the connections that they can take from the literature and apply to their own lives.

•It should be the routine, not the exception, to use multicultural literature in the classroom

•Rather than attributing an experience or identity to a single aspect such as race or ethnicity, it is important to individualize the experience. No one piece of literature should speak for an entire cultural group (Kruse, 2001)

•It is important to take the time to discuss what you have read as you would with any good piece of literature. Differences should not be minimized nor should stereotypes be perpetuated (Kruse, 2001).  



Authors to Explore

International            African American        Hispanic American

• Mem Fox              • Mildred Taylor           •Gary Soto

• Graeme Base       • Virginia Hamilton        •Pat Mora

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