Promoting a Global Community through Multicultural Children's Literature

Promoting a Global Community through Multicultural Children's Literature

Promoting a Global Community through Multicultural Children's Literature

Promoting a Global Community through Multicultural Children's Literature

Synopsis

Explore hot-button issues, such as conflict resolution among different cultural groups and the status of refugees in society, through more than 800 annotations of titles with compelling reflections of the social issues of diverse cultures. Interdisciplinary application strategies for titles range from reading aloud with follow-up discussions to social activism.

Excerpt

Alma Flor Ada

We live on a planet of diversity. It could even be affirmed that diversity is the only norm in our planet. In nature there is nothing that could be a flower, the flower, but roses and carnations, tulips and jasmine, daffodils and bougainvillea, myriad of forms, colors, and fragrances. There is not a bird, the bird, but creatures as diverse as ostriches and hummingbirds. And what is an insect, a fish, a tree, but beetles and bees, trout and sharks, oaks and palms?

This constant reminder of variety in nature becomes even more poignant when we learn that these diverse species of our planet coexist in close contact with each other. They develop a synergy that allows them not only to share reduced space and resources but to thrive in their contact to the extent of becoming indispensable to the survival of each other.

Human beings have yet to learn this message from nature: We can all grow and bloom in the richness of sharing with others. Unless we learn to respect, appreciate, celebrate, and cherish each other, we will not be able to achieve social justice, peace, and well-being. Unless we learn the lessons of nature, we will continue to bring destruction, pain, and despair as prejudice, discrimination, and multiple wars have done throughout the history of humanity.

Children's literature is a realm of discovery for the young mind and nurturance for the young spirit. By facilitating the [magical encounter] between children and books of diverse human experiences, we foster their contact with a diversity of realities and nurture their appreciation for ways of life different from their own.

Many times, cultural contact begins at a superficial level, the one provided by food and festivals. These colorful and pleasurable experiences may well be a portal to the richness and diversity in the world. It will be necessary, however, to transcend quickly these manifestations, understanding that culture is far deeper, that it goes beyond food, heroes, and holidays.

We need to facilitate the understanding that cultures have equally respectable worldviews or approaches to the human experience. Children and young adults need to understand that communities of people who have joined in common efforts have developed specific ways of interacting among themselves to provide sustenance and support to the members of their group. They not only prefer certain food, and celebrate in particular ways, but they also have ways of communicating, of caring for each other, of responding to grief, to challenges, to joy.

The primary message we wish children would receive from a rich and diverse literature is that their own culture is strong, viable, coherent, consistent. At the same time they need to see their culture as vital and in a state of change. Cultures are not static; they are the product of daily endeavors, constantly in the making.

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