Children need literature that serves as a window onto lives and experiences different from their own, and literature that serves as a mirror reflecting themselves and their cultural values, attitudes and behaviors.
-Rudine Sims Bishop
The quote from Rudine Sims Bishop succinctly defines why multicultural children’s literature is important. Infopeople instructor Julie Ann Winkelstein continues, “Multicultural children’s literature acts as both a mirror and window into the lives of people from a spectrum of cultures.” Yet thinking about multicultural literature is a challenge. What do we mean by multicultural or diverse? How do we know when we’re making assumptions or what we’re missing? How do we know what we don’t know or don’t see or don’t even think about?
In her upcoming Infopeople course, Multicultural Children’s Literature, Winkelstein discusses these challenges and her approach:
“Words like ‘diversity’ and ‘multicultural’ are not single-faceted. Instead, they encompass a large range of life experiences. Even though the topics for this course have been divided into specific cultural groups, this is for expediency and not because life is that simple. The groups I’ve selected represent common divisions, as well as cultural groups we may not think about when selecting children’s materials, such as body image, aging, appearance, and religion. Altogether these groupings offer an opportunity to examine a range of assumptions and stereotypes, both subtle and not so subtle. My hope is that this course will give learners more ways of looking and seeing, and that they will increase their understanding of other world views and experiences.”