But, first, some resources:
Brown Gold by Michelle Martin
• Martin argues that,
just as the late 19th
Century was a
golden age, we are
currently in a
Golden Age for
Nancy Larrick‟s groundbreaking article:
“The All-White World of Children‟s Books”
was a 1965 study of more than 5,000
• Larrick found that out of the more than 5,000
picture books she studied, less than one
percent reflected any contemporary images
of African Americans.
• Literature (like much art) is connected to
larger social/political movements.
• What is happening before, during, and after
the 1960s in the U.S.?
• In 1998 (according to a study by the
Cooperative Children‟s Book Center),
six percent of children‟s books
published that year were written or
illustrated by a person of color and/or
had themes representing minority
cultures. At the time, 30 percent of the
U.S. population was non-white.
• The Center did a follow-up study in
2004 and found that multicultural titles
had increased to 11 percent of the
books published for younger readers.
• Some major publishers are still convinced
that “diversity and brown-skinned faces are
trendy” (Macbeth 50).
• Therefore, many books with minority
characters or covering minority themes are
published by small, independent presses who
specialize in minority literature.
• Why do you think this is? Why don‟t major
presses publish more multicultural texts?
Best selling children‟s books:
• 1.Charlotte's Web, E. B. White • 12.Little House on the Prairie,
• 2.The Outsiders, S. E. Hinton Laura Ingalls Wilder
• 3.Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, • 13.Little House in the Big Woods,
Judy Blume Laura Ingalls Wilder
• 4.Love You Forever, Robert Munsch • 14.The Incredible Journey, Sheila
• 5.Where the Red Fern Grows, Burnford
Wilson Rawls • 15.The Little Prince, Antoine de
• 6.Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott Saint-Exup
O'Dell • 16.Johnny Tremain, Esther Forbes
• 7.Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's • 17.Just Me and My Dad, Mercer
• 8.Are You There, God? It's Me, • 18.Go Ask Alice, Anonymous
Margaret, Judy Blume • 19.Harry Potter and the Chamber
• 9.Shane, Jack Schaeffer of Secrets. J. K. Rowling
• 10.The Indian in the Cupboard, • 20.Otherwise Known as Sheila the
Lynne Reid Banks Great, Judy Blume
• 11.A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine • 21.Blubber, Judy Blume . . .
• From Publisher‟s Weekly
Forces that shape literature
• Works of children‟s literature are not
only shaped by the imagination of the
writer. They are also shaped by other
• Cultural expectations and norms
• School curricula
• One Definition of Multicultural Children‟s
• Literature written by and about under-
represented minority cultures.
Literature written by and about
under-represented minority cultures.
• Pro: • Con:
• Because books by and • This definition limits the
about minority cultures number of books that
are not published or
taught enough, we need “count” as multicultural
to rectify this situation literature and assumes
and encourage the that all books by writers
production of more outside of a culture will
books by minority be negative or
Under this definition, for instance, this book
does not count as genuine multicultural
literature. Should it? Why or why not?
Exclusions and Distortions
• “Historically, children‟s literature has reflected the
ideology of the dominant culture in society. This
ideology, indicative of a primarily white
authorship, reinforces a selective tradition in
which „certain meanings . . . are selected for
emphasis and certain other meanings . . . are
neglected or excluded‟ (Williams). The exclusion
and distortions of oppressed groups in children‟s
literature not only reflect but also perpetuate
societal racism and inequitable social relations”
Here‟s an example to illustrate
what they mean:
• The picture book, Little Black Sambo was a
very popular book in the U.S. in the early-
and mid-twentieth century.
• It was written in 1898 by a white British
woman named Helen Bannerman. Several
different illustrators have illustrated it over the
• What stereotypes do you notice in the
following text and illustrations?
Little Black Sambo
• “Once upon a time,
there was a little
black boy, and his
name was Little
Black Sambo . . .”
Little Black Sambo
• “And his mother was
Little Black Sambo
• “And his father was
• I‟m going to read
part of Five Chinese
Brothers to the
• Pay close attention
to the illustrations.
One Asian child‟s reaction to
Five Chinese Brothers:
• “When I was a child, the teacher read, „Once
upon a time, there were five Chinese brothers
and they all looked exactly alike‟ Cautiously
the pairs of eyes stole a quick glance back. I,
the child, looked down to the floor . . . The
teacher turned the book our way: bilious
yellow skin, slanted slit eyes. Not only were
the brothers look-alikes, but so were all the
other characters! . . . Quickly again all eyes
flashed back at me . . . I sank into my seat”
Def: Literature written by and about
under-represented minority cultures
• Pro: • Con:
• avoids both intentional • Defines authorship and
and unintentional authenticity in narrow
prejudice that ways.
oftentimes makes it‟s • People who counter this
way into texts written argument argue that
and/or illustrated by authors often do careful
authors outside of a research in order to
culture about minority accurately portray
characters, themes, cultures and characters
cultures, and situations. unlike themselves.
Accuracy and Authenticity
• Are both terms used by many scholars
who study multicultural children‟s
• What do they mean?
• What sorts of debates surround these
• . . . Student Presentation No. 1 . . .