Cover image for Multicultural literature for children and young adults : reflections on critical issues
Multicultural literature for children and young adults : reflections on critical issues
Cai, Mingshui.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
xx, 200 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Format :


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PN1009.A1 C195 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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There is much discussion of multiculturalism in education. This is especially true of multicultural literature for children and young adults. The rise of multicultural literature is a political rather than a literary movement; it is a movement to claim space in literature and in education for historically marginalized social groups rather than one to renovate the craft of literature itself. Multicultural literature has been closely bound with the cause of multiculturalism in general and thus has been confronted with resistance from conservatives. This book discusses many of the controversial issues surrounding multicultural literature for children and young adults.

The volume begins with a look at some of the foundational and theoretical issues related to multicultural literature. The second part of the book addresses issues related to the creation and critique of multicultural literature, including the authorship of such works and the role of the reader in determining whether or not a work is multicultural. The third looks at the place of multicultural literature in the education of children and young adults. Throughout its discussion, the book makes extensive references to a large body of multicultural fiction and provides a thorough review of research on this important topic.

Author Notes

MINGSHUI CAI is Associate Professor of Literacy Education at the University of Northern Iowa. He is a member of the editorial board of The Journal of Children's Literature and has also served on the editorial board of Language Arts . His articles have appeared in The New Advocate, Bookbird , Children's Literature in Education , and other journals.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Because of the sociopolitical nature of multicultural children's literature, and because writers, critics, educators, and librarians all approach it from different directions, the field is fraught with controversy. Cai (Univ. of Northern Iowa) attempts to elucidate and resolve some of the major issues involved. Approaching his topic from the point of view of teacher education, he discusses definition and declassification, creation and evaluation, and the use of multicultural literature in the classroom and advocates reader-response criticism. He asserts that the goals of using multicultural literature are "to challenge the dominant ideologies, affirm the values and experiences of historically underrepresented cultures, foster acceptance and appreciation of cultural diversity, develop sensitivity to social inequalities, and encourage transformation of the self and society." This volume is helpful in clarifying conflicts, discussing both good and bad examples of multicultural books, suggesting directions for further study, and providing lists of print sources and Web sites for additional information. Detracting from the quality of the book, however, are dozens of grammatical errors, misused words, and misspellings, including the names of the Boston Globe newspaper and author Maxine Hong Kingston. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Readers at all levels. S. M. Most Eastern Michigan University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. xiii
Part I Issues Related to the Concept of Multicultural Literaturep. 1
1. Defining Multicultural Literaturep. 3
Literary and Pedagogical Definitionsp. 3
The Focal Point of the Controversyp. 5
Three Views on the Definition of Multicultural Literaturep. 6
Implications for Teachers and Teacher Educatorsp. 13
2. Classifying Multicultural Literaturep. 19
Classification by Content and Intended Audiencep. 20
Classification by Cultural Specificityp. 22
Classification by Geographical and Cultural Boundariesp. 25
Part II Issues Related to the Creation and Critique of Multicultural Literaturep. 35
3. Imagination, Ethnicity, and Cultural Authenticityp. 37
The Crux of the Issuep. 38
Cultural Boundariesp. 39
Ethnic Perspectivep. 41
Brute Factsp. 42
A Comparative Study of Two Novelsp. 46
Concluding Thoughtsp. 48
4. Reader Response Theory and the Author's Role in Multicultural Literaturep. 53
The Role of the Author in Reader Response Theoryp. 54
The Real Author and the Implied Authorp. 58
The Author's Cultural Identity in Multicultural Literaturep. 62
5. Stereotyping and the Politics of Representationp. 67
Definition of Stereotypep. 68
The Social-Political Nature of Stereotypep. 69
The Detrimental Effects of Stereotypesp. 70
The Cultural War over Image Makingp. 72
Stereotypes as Partial Truthp. 74
Viewing Images in the Big Picturep. 75
Stereotypes and Historical Realismp. 78
Concluding Thoughtsp. 81
6. Cultural Correctness and the Evaluation of Multicultural Literaturep. 87
Culturally Correctp. 88
Politically Correctp. 92
Emotionally Correctp. 94
Analyzing Content Analysis as a Means of Evaluationp. 96
"Overburdening" Criticismp. 99
Embedding Cultural Criticism in Close Literary Analysisp. 104
Cultural Correctness and Reader Response Theoryp. 107
Concluding Thoughtsp. 109
Part III Issues Related to the Use of Multicultural Literature in Educationp. 115
7. Crossing Cultural Bordersp. 117
Defining Cultural Bordersp. 117
Examining One Assumptionp. 118
Critiquing One Approachp. 120
Reading Myths, Archetypes, and Universal Themesp. 123
Combating Color Biasp. 127
Against Bordersp. 129
8. From Informing to Empoweringp. 133
Informing and Empoweringp. 134
Starting to Empower Children from the Primary Gradesp. 137
From Informing to Empowering in Thematic Unitsp. 139
Critique of one Approach to the Study of Multicultural Literaturep. 143
Reading Multiculturally as a Means of Empoweringp. 145
Opportunities for Teachers to Inform and Empower Themselvesp. 148
9. Investigating Reader Responses to Multicultural Literaturep. 153
A Multidimensional Modelp. 154
Cognitive-Developmental Dimensionp. 155
Affective-Attitudinal Dimensionp. 159
Social-Communal Dimensionp. 167
Concluding Thoughtsp. 171