The Role of Multicultural Literature
Appropriate content is one of the major elements of multicultural/diverse
perspective instruction (Banks, 1990). Literature, a major carrier of content,
is a powerful medium for understanding the world. Young children find it easier
to assimilate new information when this information is presented within the
structure of a story (Wells, 1986).
Experts in multicultural education frequently emphasize
the importance of using literature to increase cultural
awareness (Piper, 1986; Tway, 1989). The literature used should accurately
portray the history, customs, values, and language of a particular cultural
group (Sims, 1982). Through sharing carefully selected literature, students
can learn to understand and to appreciate a literary heritage that comes from
many diverse backgrounds (Norton, 1990).
Students also benefit from reading literature that reflects
their own ethnic and cultural background. Such literature can be an important
tool in helping all students develop a healthy self-concept - one that is based
on a knowledge of and a sense of pride in family background (Hittleman, 1978).
Promotes Understanding Among Cultures
The use of multicultural literature can also extend
students' knowledge about parallel cultures by exposing
them to the differences and similarities between their
culture and that of other groups (Norton, 1983). These observations, documented
in research, support the notion that incorporating multicultural literature into
the curriculum can expand students' awareness and decrease negative stereotyping
of individuals from other cultures (Litchner & Johnson, 1973).
Literature can present students with clear contrasts in perspectives and can help
them to understand their
own cultural heritages and those of others - within
and outside the classroom (Rasinski & Padak, 1990).
Go on to Strategies to Support Multicultural Instruction
Back to What is Multicultural Instruction?
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