Tips for Picking through the Minefield of Multicultural Literature: Grades K-12. (Language Artisans)

Curriculum Review, January 2003 | Go to article overview

Tips for Picking through the Minefield of Multicultural Literature: Grades K-12. (Language Artisans)


Teachers looking for good books to assign for a unit on racial discrimination can soon find themselves in a literary minefield, the Christian Science Monitor notes. Parents, school boards and administrators might complain that one text is patronizing, while another contains derogatory words or phrases, and yet another touches on adult themes of drug use or sexuality.

To aid teachers in selecting books that impart important lessons about race and culture, writer Marjorie Coeyman assembled some lists of works many teachers currently assign in their classrooms.

Classics that are now often challenged: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1885), To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960), Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin (1960), and Sounder by William Howard Armstrong (1969).

Works now considered classics, but once challenged: Native Son (1940) and Black Boy (1945) by Richard Wright, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (1952), Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952), A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (1959), Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown (1970).

"New classics" on black-white relations, by black writers: Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987), I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (1970), Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937).

First-person nonfiction by black authors: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave (1845), The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1964), Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown (1965), Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas (1967), Black Ice by Lorene Carey (1972), Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane (1989), Gifted Hands by Ben Carson with Cecil Murphy (1990), Makes Me Wanna Holler by Nathan McCall (1994). …

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