- To discover commonalities among themes of culturally diverse groups;
- To provide awareness of the similarities among humans the world over;
- To instill appreciation of diverse lifestyles brought about by environmental conditions and long-standing traditions;
- To promote the realization that multicultural children's literature provides a way for people of all ages to understand and appreciate diverse cultures.
- In a survey of the literature regarding multicultural children's trade books it is found that we must "focus on our likenesses and celebrate our differences" (Beaty, 1997, p. 3), that multiculturalism in children's literature is currently subject to intense discussion and debate (Harris, 1993), that there is a need for helping children better understand culturally diverse populations (Ramirez and Ramirez, 1994), and that multicultural literature can promote cultural awareness (Abbott and Polk, 1993).
In this session we will discuss:
- the availability of multicultural children's literature
- what to look for when selecting bias-free books
- awareness of commonalities among themes
- universal themes and why practices vary among cultures
- identification of other themes
Rosen, Michael J. The Dog who Walked with God. Cambridge: Candlewick
Press. ISBN: 0-7636-0470-4
Native American (Kato) creation story.
Multicultural versions of fairy tales:
Little Red Riding Hood
The Three Little Pigs
The Three Bears
More than Anything Else - Marie Bradby
Amber on the Mountain - Tony Johnston
The Day of Ahmed's Secret - Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland
Oh, how I wish I could Read - John Gile
Baker, Jeannie. Where the Forest Meets the Sea. New
1987. ISBN: 0-590-42881-0 (Australia)
When a father and his son explore a portion of the Daintree Rainforest in North Queensland, Australia, they are haunted by life there in the past and premonitions of how it may be in the future.
Caduto, Michael J. and Joseph Bruchac. Keepers of the Animals: Native American Stories and Wildlife Activities for Children. Golden, Colorado: Fulcurm Publishing, 1991. ISBN: 1-55591-088-2 (Native American) A collection of stories from several Native American tribes that describe the relationship between man and animals. Each story is followed by factual information and suggested activities for children.
Cheney, Glenn Alan. Chernobyl: The Ongoing Story of the
World's Deadliest Nuclear Disaster. New York: New Discovery
Books, 1993. (Russia) ISBN: 002718305X
The 1986 explosion at the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl was a human as well as environmental catastrophe, and this thorough account of the accident examines its causes, the response of the Soviet government, and the tragic aftermath of a horror that still lives on.
Cherry, Lynn. A River Ran Wild. San Diego:
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992. ISBN: 0-15-200542-0 (United
States, Native American)
Beautifully illustrated story of the Nashua River in the New England area of the United States. The history of the Nashua Indian people and the pollution of the Nashua River by paper mills provide a background to explain how the river was returned to
a state of health.
Cherry, Lynn. The Great Kapok Tree. New York:
Trumpet, 1990. ISBN: 0-440-84944-6 (Brazil, South America)
Set in the Amazon rain forest in Brazil, wild animals appeal to a woodcutter not to chop down a kapok tree which is the home to many animals.
George, Jean Craighead. One Day in the Tropical Rain Forest.
New York: Ty Crowell Company, 1990. ISBN: 0690047673
The story of a young boy's determination to save his beautiful homeland. Fascinating descriptions of the many layers of animal and human life that are engaged in the same struggle for survival are included.
Frasier, Debra. On the Day you were Born. San Diego:
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991. ISBN: 0-15-257995-8 (global)
A celebration of the cycle of birth and the human connection to the earth. This is a spiritual and poetic tribute to the joys of birth with lovely, colorful cut-paper illustrations.
Granfield, Linda. The Legend of the Panda. Canada:
Tundra Books, 1998. ISBN: 0-88776-421-5 (China)
A retelling of a Chinese folktale, this story is about how the panda got its black and white coat. It also gives facts about pandas and the World Wildlife Fund's attempts to preserve their habitats and prevent their extinction. Many cultural insights are provided in the story that describe the people who live near the panda's natural habitats.
Jeffers, Susan. Brother Eagle, Sister Sky. New York:
Dial, 1991. ISBN: 0-8037-0969-2 (Native American)
Chief Seattle's message to the white people taking his native land. It describes his people's respect and love for the earth and his concern for its destruction.
Kessler, Christina, and Mswati, III. All the King's Animals:
The Return of Endangered Wildlife in Swaziland. New York:
Boyds Mill Press, 1995. ISBN: 1563973642 (Swaziland)
Author-photographer Kessler documents the efforts of conservationist Ted Reilly, who with the help of King Sobhuza II and his son King Mswati, III, help return endangered wildlife to Swaziland. (Booklist)
Smith, Roland and Michael J. Schmidt. In the Forest with the
Elephants. New York: Gulliver Books, 1998. ISBN:
While Asian elephant populations are greatly diminished today, the small country of Myanmar protects both the elephants and the forests that sustain them. (Horn Book)
Abdulla, Ian. As I Grew Older. Sydney: Omnibus,
1993. ISBN: 1-86291-160-6 (Australia)
Describing his harsh Aboriginal life in Australia, the author provides descriptions and accounts of working, schooling, and trying to survive as a young boy in a poor family.
Ajmera, Maya and Anna Rhesa Versola. Children from Australia
to Zimbabwe. Mexico: R. R. Donnelley and Sons, 1997. ISBN:
0-88106-999-x (collection of photographs from twenty-six countries)
The differences among nations affect the daily lives of children, as the pictures and stories in this book show. But children also have a lot in common, no matter where they live or what language they speak.
Angelou, Maya. Kofi and his Magic. New York:
Clarkson Potter, 1996. ISBN: 0-517-70453-6 (West Africa)
True to its title, this book is filled with magic. Bringing to light many of the proud traditions and rituals of the Ashanti people, this story tells of a young boy's life and his talent of weaving Kente cloths. The story of Kofi and his life invites everyone into his world and allows him to enter the reader's heart as a new friend.
Angelou, Maya. My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me.
New York: Clarkson Potter, 1994. ISBN: 0-517-59667-9
Eight year old Thandi, an Ndebele girl in South Africa, tells her story and provides insight into her home, family, school, and culture.
Clark, Ann Nolan. In My Mother's House. New York:
Penguin, 1992. ISBN: 0-14-054496-8 (Native American)
A young Tewa Indian boy describes the homes, customs, work, and strong communal spirit of his people.
Garland, Sherry. The Lotus Seed. New York:
Voyager, 1997. ISBN: 0152014837 (Vietnamese American)
A story of hope and epiphany and the importance of family heritage. A lotus seed taken from Vietnam blooms years later in America.
Grifalconi, Ann. The Village of Round and Square Houses.
New York: Little Brown and Company, 1986. ISBN: 0316328626
A grandmother explains to her listeners why in their village of Tos the women live in round houses and the men live in square ones.
Hest, Amy. When Jessie Came Across the Sea. Italy:
Candlewick Press, 1997. ISBN: 0-7636-0094-6 (Jewish)
A thirteen-year-old Jewish orphan reluctantly leaves her grandmother and immigrates to New York City, where she works for three years sewing lace and earning money to bring Grandmother to the United States, too.
Kendall, Russ. Russian Girl: Life in an Old Russian Town.
New York: Scholastic, 1994. ISBN: 0-590-45789-6 (Russia)
Olga Surikova's life is described as she tells of her day-to-day activities, her schooling, and her hopes and dreams of the future. Vivid photographs give the reader insight into her life in Russia.
Kindersley, Barnabas and Anabel Kindersley. Children Just Like
Me. New York: Dorling Kindersley Publishing, 1995. (global)
A celebration of children's differences and likenesses as they tell of their daily lives, hopes, fears, and dreams. Photographs of the children in their native lands show homes, schools, pets, friends, and traditional dress.
Knight, Margy Burns. Who Belongs Here? Gardiner,
ME: Tilbury House, 1993. ISBN: 0-88448-158-1 (Cambodian
This book describes the new life of Nary, a Cambodian refugee, in America, as well as his encounters with prejudice. It includes a general history of U.S. immigration and details of the present conditions existing in Cambodia.
Kroll, Virginia. Masai and I. New York: Four
Winds Press, 1992. ISBN: 0-02-751165-0 (East Africa)
This book provides the perfect vehicle for African American children to feel the pride associated with their heritage. The book depicts the Masai as hardworking, courageous, and dignified people. As a young girl in the United States compares and contrasts her life with that of the Masai in Africa, she feels pride and develops a greater appreciation for her African ancestors.
Lee, Milly. Nim and the War Effort. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997. ISBN: 0-374-35523-1 (Chinese Americans)
Set in San Francisco's Chinatown during World War II, Nim is a second generation Chinese immigrant who wants to do her part toward the war effort. Issues of cultural discrimination, Chinese family structure, and patriotism are pertinent to the story.
Levitin, Sonia. A Piece of Home. New York:
Dial, 1996. ISBN: 0-8037-1625-7 (Russia)
Gregor has to make a difficult decision about what to take to America so that he can remember Russia. He decides to take a blanket that he has had all his life and is pleased to find that the other half of the blanket belongs to his American cousin.
Rylant, Cynthia. Appalachia: The Voices of Sleeping Birds.
New York: Trumpet, 1991. ISBN: 0-440-84685-4 (Appalachia, USA)
Colorful descriptions of the people, pets, foods, religions, and rituals in Appalachia. Insights into coal mining, quilting, outhouses, and the seasons give the reader a picture of life in the Appalachian Mountains.
Say, Allen. Grandfather's Journey. New York:
Houghton Mifflin, 1993. ISBN: 03-95570-35-2 (Japan)
Home becomes elusive in this story about immigration and acculturation, pieced together through old pictures and salvaged family tales. Both the narrator and his grandfather long to return to Japan, but when they do, they feel
anonymous and confused.
Spier, Peter. People. New York: Delacorte, 1980. ISBN: 0-385-24469-X (global)
With astounding facts about the number of people that inhabit this planet and the absolute uniqueness of each one, this book has an underlying theme of understanding and acceptance of people who are like us and those who are different. This book gives a powerful comparison that helps the reader visualize how much we would miss if there was no variety and diversity in our world.
Wheatley, Nadia and Donna Rawlins. My Place. Singapore:
Tien Wah Press, 1994. ISBN: 0-916291-42-1 (Australia)
Set in Australia, this book starts by telling about the life of a young boy in 1988 and travels back in time two hundred years to describe life at several periods of time in history. Family structure, political events, pets, and economic conditions are described at each juncture.
Criteria: Books that reflect issues of intergenerational dynamics, family interactions, and traditions relating to holidays, death, birth, and marriage.
Chocolate, Deborah M. Newton. On the Day I was Born.
New York: Cartwheel Books, 1995. ISBN: 0590476092 (African
An African American family welcomes the new baby in a variety of ways. Some are universal, but most represent the trend toward incorporating African symbols and traditions into current American life.
Cowen-Fletcher, Jane. It Takes a Village. New York:
Scholastic, 1994. ISBN: 0-590-29289-7 (Benin, Africa)
Based on the African Proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child," this is the story of how people in the village care for a young boy who is separated from his sister and must rely on the help of others to survive.
Jaffe, Nina. The Uninvited Guest and Other Jewish Holiday Tales.
New York: Scholastic, 1995. ISBN: 0590446533 (Jewish)
Seven stories for different Jewish holidays, with brief explanations of some of their rituals. In a separate chapter, Jaffe thoroughly explains her sources and includes information on the tales. A glossary and a bibliography of recommended readings are also included.
Kindersley, Barnabas and Anabel. Children Just Like Me: Celebrations! New York: DK Publishing, 1997. ISBN: 0-7894-2027-9 (global)
A yearly calendar provides the reader with an overview of the major holidays celebrated in various cultures around the world. Photographs and interviews with children from several cultures are included to help explain the basis for the holidays and how they are celebrated.
Martin, Bill. Knots on a Counting Rope. New York:
Owlet, 1997. ISBN: 0805054790 (Native American)
In this story, the counting rope is a metaphor for the passage of time and for a boy's emerging confidence facing his greatest challenge: blindness. The grandfather recounts the boy's birth and struggle for life as he tries to help the child face the future.
Miles, Miska. Annie and the Old One. New York:
Trumpet, 1971. ISBN: 0-440-84258-1 (Native American, death)
A young Navajo girl tries desperately to keep her grandmother alive by unraveling her weaving and distracting the old woman from completing her tapestry which symbolizes the end of her life's work.
Polacco, Patricia. The Keeping Quilt. New York: Trumpet, 1988. ISBN: 0-440-83170-9 (Russian, marriage)
The story of a Russian immigrant and how she made a quilt of her clothes from Russia to remind her of her homeland. The quilt served many uses for the woman's family throughout the years. The quilt was used as a tablecloth, a wedding huppa, a baby
blanket, and as a lap quilt for the old woman. http://www.scils.rutgers.edu/special/kay/polacco.html
Shea, Pegi Deitz. The Whispering Cloth: A
Refugee's Story. New York: Boyds Mill Press, 1995. ISBN:
Set in a refugee camp in Thailand, this picture book about a small Hmong child quietly tells of how her story cloth stitches reveal her parents murder and her escape with her grandmother.
Soto, Gary. Too Many Tamales. New York: Putnam,
1993. ISBN: 0399221468 (Latino)
Maria tries on her mother's diamond ring while she helps her parents make tamales for Christmas dinner. Convinced that the ring fell off while she was kneading the masa, she and her three cousins eat all twenty-four tamales, only to find her mother is wearing the ring.
Yolen, Jane. Grandad Bill's Song. New York:
Philomel, 1994. ISBN: 0-399-21802-5 (United States, death)
A boy asks his family members how they felt when his grandfather died and then shares his own feelings of loss. The book shows how death is handled in contemporary U. S. culture.
Wing, Natasha. Jalapeno Bagels. New York: Simon
and Schuster, 1996. ISBN: 0-689-80530-6 (Mexican, Jewish)
For International day at school, Pablo wants to bring something that reflects the cultures of both his Mexican mother and his Jewish father.
Wright, Courtni C. Jumping the Broom. New York: Holiday House, 1994. ISBN: 0823410420 (African American)
A strong sense of community and optimism unites a slave family as they joyfully prepare for a wedding. Special food, clothing, and a beautiful quilt add to the festivities. (Horn Book)
http://www.acs.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/index.html - The Children's Literature Web Guide
http://www.scils.rutgers.edu/special/kay/childlit.html - Kay Vandergrift's Children's Literature Homepage
http://curry.edschool.virginia.edu/go/multicultural/sites1.html - Multicultural Pavilion
http://members.aol.com/mcsing29/index.htm - Children's Multicultural Literature Resource
http://www.storiestogrowby.com/ - Hootie Owl's Stories to Grow By: Folk and Fairy Tales from Around the World
http://www.childrenslit.com/ - Children's Literature Site
http://www.scils.rutgers.edu/special/kay/bookssen.html - Kay Vandergrift's Sensitive Issues Page
http://www.4children.org/news/9-97mlit.htm - Beyond Good Intentions: Selecting Good Multicultural Literature
http://www.isomedia.com/homes/jmele/joe.html - Multicultural Book Reviews
- A Webliography of Multicultural Resources
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