Rachel Ackley 0

More Multicultural Lit for Children

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Hello, I am an education major at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. This semester I am enrolled in a Children’s Literature that focused heavily on multicultural literature. Being in this class has changed my perception of children’s literature and opened my eyes to the lack of multicultural literature that is accessible to children that come from non “normal” backgrounds.

To first understand multicultural literature, you must know how to differentiate between good and bad examples of it. Culturally authentic books have authors that come from the cultural background the book is addressing. Also called culturally specific, the culture is presented in the book through things such as speech, the setting, what the characters do and how they do it, and the theme of the story. You can address this through illustrations as well by analyzing the character’s hairstyles, skin color, and any non-exaggerated characteristics. If a book only has minor representations of minority groups, only show minority groups through illustration, or the theme is about a universal message (i.e. friendship) then the book cannot be considered culturally authentic/specific.

Why do we need an increase in multicultural for children? I believe the answer is easily reached by focusing on the children themselves. Children learn from books by viewing them as windows (a peek into a life of someone different from them) or mirrors (a reflection of themselves). Many books adhere to the nuclear family when families are becoming more and more diverse. Because of this, children can’t connect and learn from books that are about a life they don’t know. In turn, more multicultural books would allow non minority children to get a mirror look into different lives.

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