Title

Building Positive Identity Development Through the Use Of Authentically Culturally Diverse Children's Literature

Location

Sloane

Strand #1

Social & Emotional Skills

Strand #2

Family & Community

Relevance

In working with children and families from diverse backgrounds, it has become clear that authentically culturally diverse children’s literature is not readily available in homes and schools. Research shows that the absence of representation of all ethnicities within a child's world can lead to internalized racism. In addition, many children’s books that include characters of color revolve around historical figures, such as Martin Luther King. While books on history and heroes are important, using this type of book exclusively can result in tokenism. This proposal relates to Strands 2 and 5 in that it introduces the role of authentically culturally diverse children's literature displaying a variety of families and ethnicities to positive identity development.

Brief Program Description

Join us to understand how the lack of representation of children from a variety of ethnicities and families can result in bias in all children. Then explore a collection of authentically culturally diverse picture books that represent families from many backgrounds and allow all children to “see themselves” within the pages. We will also share resources to find such wonderful books.

Summary

While research indicates the importance of using children’s literature as mirrors and windows, a concept coined by Rudine Sims Bishop, the availability of high quality, authentically culturally diverse children’s literature remains a small percentage of the books published each year. In an effort to establish a multicultural classroom environment, many teachers unintentionally respond with tokenism, or having a few picture books that depict historical heroes, such as Martin Luther King. Other times, classroom libraries hold books about the “culture” of another country instead of a look about the lives of ethnic families living around us. While books that bring history to life or explore another country are an important part of the curriculum, books that show characters from many shades and ethnicities involved in “everyday life” situations are equally important. Books that show families making dinner, visiting the library, visiting with relatives and enjoying life are a closer representation of today’s children looking to “see” themselves in the pictures in a book. These representations match what a child experiences on a daily basis. So including high quality, authentically culturally diverse books in the home and classroom library creates the “mirror” Bishop is talking about. This is the beginning of building a healthy personal identity. But what about classrooms multiple ethnicities are not present? These books also have a place in those classroom to act as “windows” for the students to consider how those who skin color or language may be different than my own are more alike than different from me. This is the beginning of breaking down the barriers that may lead to racism and stereotyping. We believe that educators and professionals are open to providing culturally relevant materials but need exposure to high quality and authentic resources. We will provide the background research on why this topic is relevant and then provide actual children’s literature for the participants to review along with suggestions for locating and purchasing them.

Evidence

Beginning in the 1940’s with the Clark Doll Experiment and continuing through the present, research has indicated the danger of creating unintentional racism and bias in the lack of positive representation of children from all ethnicities. Even with this knowledge, children’s literature continues to have an unbalanced representation of characters who are white rather than characters from a variety of ethnicities. Rudine Sims Bishop coined the concept of using children’s literature as mirrors and windows, mirrors that allow us to “see” a reflection of ourselves and windows so we can learn about others. In our work with children and families in an early literacy program, parents have indicated that they were not aware of children’s literature that included characters from a variety of ethnicities and were interested in learning where to access these books. Since that “Aha moment” for us, we have included collections of authentically diverse children’s picture books for the parents to review and have provided opportunities, through the use of grant money, for the parents to select books for their child(ren) to build a home library. Consistently, the parents select books that will serve as mirrors and windows to build positive self-identity and expose the children to other cultures. Parents have also indicated they use the knowledge of quality culturally diverse literature as a framework for selecting library books for their children. The goal of this session is to provide participants with research on how children can develop bias and the current state of representations of characters from all ethnicities and families in popular children’s literature while providing a large sample of authentically culturally diverse picture books for the participants to review.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Nancy H. Brasel

Nancy Brasel is an Associate Instructor at the University of Central Florida in the Early Childhood Development and Education & Elementary Education programs. She has a M.Ed. in Early Childhood/Elementary Education. Her professional interests include early literacy and the social/emotional development of young children and preparing preservice teachers to be highly effective and inspiring educational professionals. Ms. Brasel co-developed a weekly Saturday program, “Milk and Muffins,” focusing on early language and literacy for children and families in an urban-poverty neighborhood.

Dr. Judith Levin:

Dr. Levin has an Ed.D in Child, Youth, and Family Studies. She is on the faculty at the University of Central Florida in the College of Education and Human Performance. She developed a parent training curriculum for the Parramore Kidz Zone’s Baby Institute located in a predominantly African-American community; she serves as a consultant to this program. In addition, Dr. Levin co-developed a weekly Saturday program, “Milk and Muffins,” focusing on early language and literacy for children and families in an urban-poverty neighborhood.

Dr. Levin spent a semester in Harlem, New York working at a Head Start site. She is continuing this connection with the children and families through a longitudinal study on the impact of a quality preschool experience for children living in poverty. The study follows the families from kindergarten through high school graduation. Her areas of interest are social and emotional development of young children and children who are marginalized.

Keyword Descriptors

Children's Literature, Cultural Diversity, Mirrors and Windows, Multicultural Education, Early Literacy, Emergent Literacy, Parent Education

Presentation Year

2016

Start Date

3-9-2016 9:45 AM

End Date

3-9-2016 11:00 AM

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Mar 9th, 9:45 AM Mar 9th, 11:00 AM

Building Positive Identity Development Through the Use Of Authentically Culturally Diverse Children's Literature

Sloane

Join us to understand how the lack of representation of children from a variety of ethnicities and families can result in bias in all children. Then explore a collection of authentically culturally diverse picture books that represent families from many backgrounds and allow all children to “see themselves” within the pages. We will also share resources to find such wonderful books.