What Is Fair? Books That Help Children Understand Diversity

By Hasegawa, Jack | New England Reading Association Journal, January 1, 2002 | Go to article overview

What Is Fair? Books That Help Children Understand Diversity


Hasegawa, Jack, New England Reading Association Journal


What is fair?

Books that help children understand diversity

Accommodating diversity in literacy instruction through interactive writing

English language literacy: Motivating culturally diverse students to improve reading and writing skills

Finding ways to jumpstart early literacy

Managing and monitoring the rest of the class during guided reading: Three literacy educators share their stories

Writing in the elementary school: The missing pieces

It is tempting to think that young children are free of bias and that race doesn't matter to them. Parents are often surprised and mortified by their children's responses to differences. Little children sometimes begin pulling up the corners of their eyes, or throwing karate kicks, or suddenly begin speaking in a weird singsong gibberish upon seeing my Asian American face. Horrified mothers in supermarkets grab their kids and hustle down another aisle, whispering furiously. One young father brought his teary five-year over to apologize. When I've visited schools, teachers have taken giggling pupils into the hall for some quick instruction on diversity awareness.

An acquaintance recently told me that his six-- year old daughter had announced one night that she hated Black people. When he asked why she hated them, she answered, "because they are mean". He described his efforts to get her to remember that she had a good friend at school who is Black, and that her friend is not mean. He was quite pleased with the result of his efforts, since he felt that he had helped his daughter to see that there were good people and bad people of every color. "You see," this proud papa said, "I taught her that they're not all bad. Some of them are ok!"

When children respond to racial and perceived cultural differences at an early age, the question is not how to suppress their attempts to explore these differences. It is also not enough to demonstrate, however lovingly, that there can be particular exceptions to stereotypes, especially when the child ends up with a clear sense that her friend's goodness is an exception!

The real question is how we can help children acquire emotional and intellectual information about people who are different from themselves. Trying to make your eyes slanted or inventing sounds that sound like a foreign language are ways that children have of trying to see what it feels like to be someone else. Overgeneralizations and stereotypes provide easy answers when children struggle to place people with unfamiliar skin color or cultural identifiers like headscarves or turbans into their developing sense of the social universe. The child's universe of social meaning can be complicated by parental hostility toward African Americans or endless news coverage of the danger posed by terrorists in turbans.

Books by and about people of color are one important resource for nurturing children's understanding of America's diversity. Reading and being read to are powerful ways to help children make sense of their experiences and observation, even in this age of television and video games. In fact, books that explore the experiences of minority groups in America can provide a more leisurely, imagination-stimulating counterpart to television and video games. Those media most frequently heighten stereotypes - Black tap dancer, Asian Kung Fu fighter, Latino bandito, and Indian chief. Black, Asian, Hispanic and Native Americans are mostly seen on television as exotic enemies, and our most popular video games and computer games mainly teach kids how to kill those enemies!

Today's children (and their teachers) have a wonderful and growing array of books that provide deeper and richer explorations of the lives of a wide variety of Americans. They range from stories that focus on ethnic experiences and others which tell stories in which race is not a central factor, even though the protagonist in these books is a child who happens to be Black or Asian or Latino or Native American. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

What Is Fair? Books That Help Children Understand Diversity
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.