Wed April 23 2014 5:22 AM
Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Multicultural Books–Appropriate or Inappropriate?

Students in the Human Relations class, Edu 119, often ask library staff about finding multicultural books that are either appropriate or inappropriate for classroom use.  You will find many, many multicultural books for children in the Curriculum Library but it is up to each student to decide whether they are appropriate or not, using the criteria your instructor gives you.  Some of the points you may want to consider are:

When was the book written?  Is a contemporary book likely to be more culturally sensitive than one written 20 years ago?

Is the author part of the ethnic group featured in the book?  If that information is not available in the notes or bookflaps, do a Google search to find out more about the author.  If the author is not part of that ethnic group, has he or she done extensive research?  Are there sources listed?

Are the illustrations stereotypical or dated?

Is the language respectful or condescending?    Is negative language necessary for the development of plot or characters?

Are the characters stereotyped or individualized?  Some examples of stereotypes are: the noble savage, the lazy Mexican sleeping under a cactus, the loving black mammy. 

Here are some lists which may help you decide: “Multicultural Books 1925-1985,” “20 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know,” and “Multicultural Picture Books.”  The last one includes comments from reviews.  Print copies of these lists are available in the Curriculum Library.

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