Academic journal article Language Arts

Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults: Reflections on Critical Issues

Academic journal article Language Arts

Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults: Reflections on Critical Issues

Article excerpt

Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults: Reflections on Critical Issues by Mingshui Cai, Greenwood Press, 2002, 200 pp., ISBN 978-159311-396-4

Multicultural education is surrounded by controversy. Educators and theorists cannot agree upon which books fit into which categories, who is a multicultural writer, how to evaluate the literature, what functions it serves, or how to incorporate it into the curriculum. Three interrelated aspects- literary, sociopolitical positioning, and educational foundations-inform this debate. Each aspect implies a different focus, agenda, and criteria. In his book Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults, Mingshui Cai offers his readers a systematic analysis of these aspects in an effort to present a more balanced view of multiculturalism and a lens through which to view this controversy.

Cai's book is divided into three sections. The first section examines the multiple definitions of multicultural literature from literary and pedagogical perspectives. Literary definitions are concerned with the messages implicit in printed text. According to this perspective, literary works could be explicitly multicultural or implicitly multicultural. Explicitly multicultural are those works that portray the reality of a multicultural society, whereas implicitly multicultural are those that do not openly state their position, but their purpose could be inferred due to its intended audience and linguistic medium.

From a pedagogical perspective, multicultural literature has the potential to break the monopoly of the majoritarian culture and to add a pluralistic view to the curriculum. Cai writes that the purpose of multicultural literature is to expand the curriculum to include literature of cultures other than that of White culture. The author offers three different views of multicultural literature:

* Multiple + culture = multiculturalism: "It should include as many cultures as possible" (p. 6). This definition addresses learning about different cultures but without considering issues of equity.

* The focus is on people of color and calls readers to look at multiculturalism with a critical eye.

* Multiple + literature = multicultural: This posture claims that all literature is multicultural. Regarding this last posture, Cai warns us that this definition may make "the term multicultural all-inclusive to the point of deconstructing its sociopolitical concept, contribut[ing] to its possible demise" (p. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.