August 08, 2006

Feels Like It's Still Monday...

Hmmm. How do YOU define multicultural literature? Because there is no single definition, according to the U of Wisconsin's Cooperative Children's Book Center, your answer might well be quite a bit different from mine. Most people assume that it simply means books celebrating cultural diversity through children's literature; some people assume that the books have to have been written by persons of color for persons of color; while others feel that the content and topic of the book must be something like racial equality, getting along with people of different cultures, etc. Some people I've spoken with are uncomfortable with the idea of multicultural literature, feeling that books for children should be ...books for children. Period. Anyway, Mitali Perkins shares statistics which point out that there is still a lot to be desired in the realm of books out there for young folks. I know for a fact that the day I tried to find multicultural literature about Latino kids, all I kept finding was Dora the Explorer -- I mean, Yay for Dora, but come on... Can we not find another Latina icon in literature? Anyone?

I imagine finding literature for and about Middle Eastern children, short of a few works that are meant to help children of other nations and cultures understand what's at stake with the hostilities in that region, must be well-nigh impossible. Other under-represented groups are Korean Americans, Cambodian Americans, and First Nation Natives, including the Australian aboriginal peoples. Mitali is a most excellent resource for multicultural literature, as is, of course, Pooja Makhijani but I found another site, currently being updated whose full focus is also on creating an annotated bibliography of multicultural children's lit. It includes many websites for further research, and divides books by genre such as realistic fiction, nonfiction, traditional folk tales, historical fiction, biography, poetry, fantasy fiction, and also by approximate grade level. (Note -there are no reviews.)

Meanwhile, Louisiana libraries continue the work of rebuilding their stock, and are taking wise advantage of the devastation last year to bolster certain genres. Gay and Lesbian selections and a greater number of books for and featuring African American children and adults are included in their new purchases.

8 comments:

Pooja said...

Thanks for the link to multiculturalchildrenslit.com. I hadn't come across that site yet in my cyber travels; it's a great resource. You might also want to check out SarahPark.com for more Korean-American children's literature and the blog American Indians in Children's Literature for literature for and about Native American children.

p.s. There is an "i" at the end of my name :)!

Mitali Perkins said...

Following up on Pooja's suggestions, let me remind your readers about Cynthia Leitich Smith's fabulous website when it comes to books exploring other cultures. (BTW, thanks for the link to my site and the kind words, Wonderland.)

TadMack said...

Oops! One keystroke missed. Thanks for the correction, and the additional information, Pooja.

I have a Cambodian American adopted sister, and this summer, along with my adopted little brother, we did a country-by-country round of restaurants and book outings. Sure, you can find "Mexican" restaurants on every corner, and I found a fabulous Indian restaurant, but bookstores are not so strong in the children's lit department! So I'm expanding my search in every direction. Thanks, both of you, for your help.

Tockla said...

These are great suggestions. PaperTigers is another good resource (while focusing on Pacific Rim books, there are lots of links to general multicultural resources as well). I hope I did the linking right - I'm new to this blogging thing!

TadMack said...

Thanks, Tockla, and welcome to the blogosphere! The link looks good to me, and I can use all the suggestions I can get!

a. fortis said...

I think I have a post somewhere on Paper Tigers, from quite a while ago--thanks for the reminder! Here's the link.

Pooja said...

D'OH! I forgot Kay Vandergrift's Special Interest Page. Make sure you check out Gender and Culture in Picture Books. Very interesting reading.

TadMack said...

As well as Kay Vandergrift's page, my first and best resource is always Lee and Low Books, and their imprint Bebop Books. If I work backwards from their booklists, which are entirely multicultural and very cool, I can usually find some really good stuff. Thanks for the round up, guys!