The Missouri Reader Vol. 42, Issue 1 - Page 56


Overall, all groups of students

I was just two



There’s Only One of Me and Twenty-Seven of You: Peer to Peer Problem Solving

Toni Henderson

Multicultural literature opens the dialogue on issues regarding diversity (Colby & Lyon, 2004). Reading literature with a multicultural focus followed by discussion prompts children to read, think, and become engaged with the text’s content and the author’s message (Salas, Lucido, & Canales, 2001).

Ramsey (2008) identifies two dimensions for teaching cultural awareness and acceptance -- planned curriculum and spontaneous conversation. Multicultural literature provides the impetus for both of these occurrences. Stories that mention cultural celebrations or religious ceremonies provide an opportunity for cross-cultural comparisons and interdisciplinary teaching. Lessons can also be developed to explore the importance of language as a means of connection and self-identity (Siddiqui, 2012). Impromptu discussions during or following a read aloud of any type of literature are constructive encounters, but they are particularly important when reading multicultural children’s literature, since they provide the opportunity to clarify misconceptions. An open dialog in which children actively engage with the information promotes learning (Shultz, 2010).


While dragons, kites, and pandas may appear as common themes in the stories recommended, there are no stereotypes portrayed, and Chinese culture is not distorted or misrepresented. Instead, they allow Chinese Americans to identify themselves with their inherited culture and provide an authentic glimpse into Chinese culture. Many of the books recommended provide messages that are timeless and universal, and they all provide insight into Chinese beliefs and customs. Use of these books in early childhood and elementary classrooms will encourage children to develop a better understanding of the vast diversity present in their world while also enabling them to see the shared commonalities that make human cohesiveness possible. As Dowd (1992) argues ". . . by reading, hearing, and using culturally diverse materials, young people learn that beneath surface differences of color, culture or ethnicity, all people experience universal feelings of love, sadness, self-worth, justice and kindness" (p. 220).


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Bishop, (1997). Selecting literature for a multicultural curriculum. In V. J. Harris (Ed.), Using multicultural literature in the K-8 classroom (pp. 1-19). Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon.

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Brinson, S. A (2005). R-e-s-p-e-c-t for family diversity. Dimensions of Early Childhood, 33(2), 24-30.

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Colby, S.A. & Lyon, A.F. (2004). Heightening awareness about the importance of using multicultural literature. Multicultural Education, 24-28.

DeLeon, L. (2002). Multicultural literature: Reading to develop self-worth. Multicultural Education, 10(2), 49-51.

Dowd, F. S. (1992). Evaluating children's books portraying Native American and Asian cultures. Childhood Education, 68(4), 219-224.

Higgins, J. J. (2002). Multicultural children's literature: Creating and applying an evaluation tool in response to the needs of urban educators. New Horizons in Education. Retrieved from

Hill, T. J. (1998). Multicultural children’s books: An American fairy tale. Publishing Research Quarterly, 14(1), 36-45.

Hefflin, B. R., & Barkdale-Ladd, M. A. (2001). African American children's literature that helps students find themselves: Selection guidelines for grades k-3. The Reading Teacher, 54(8), 810-881.

Hillard, L. L. (1995). Defining the "multi-" in "multicultural" through children's literature. The Reading Teacher, 48(8), 728.

Norton, D. E., & Norton, S. (2010). Through the eyes of a child: An introduction to children's literature (8th ed). New York: Pearson.

Pang, V. O., Colvin, C, Tran, M., & Barba, R. H. (1992). Beyond chopsticks and dragons: Selecting Asian-American literature for children. The Reading Teacher, 46(3), 216-224.

Ramsey, P. G. (2008). Growing up with the contradictions of race and class. In C. Copple (Ed.), A world of difference: Readings on teaching young children in a diverse society. (pp. 24-28). Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Robinson, J. A. (2013). Critical approaches to multicultural children's literature in the elementary classroom: Challenging pedagogies of silence. New England Reading Association Journal, 48(2), 43-51.

Salas, R. G., Lucido, F., & Canales, J. (2001). Multicultural literature: Broadening young children's experiences. In J. Cassidy & S.D. Garrett (Eds.), Early childhood literacy: Programs & strategies to develop cultural, linguistic, scientific and healthcare literacy for very young children and their families, 2001 yearbook. (pp. 139-150). College of Education Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi: Center for Educational Development, Evaluation, & Research

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Shultz, S. (2010). Judging a book by its cover: An evaluation tool for the evaluation, selection and inclusion of multicultural children’s literature in the elementary

classroom. San Rafael, CAA: Dominican University of California

Children’s Literature

Chang, G., & Chang, C. (Illustrator). (2007). Jin Jin The Dragon. Brooklyn, NY: Enchanted Lion Books.

Chang, G., & Chang, C. (Illustrator). (2009). Jin Jin and Rain Wizard. Brooklyn, NY: Enchanted Lion Books.

Louie, A., & Young, E. (Illustrator). (1982). Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella story from China. New York: Puffin.

Mahy, M., (Author) Tseng, J. & Tseng, M. (Illustrators). (1990). The Seven Chinese

Brothers. New York, NY: Blue Ribbon.

Muth, J. J. (2005). Zen Shorts. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.

Muth, J.J. (2008). Zen Ties. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.

Muth, J. J. (2010). Zen Ghosts. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.

Tompert, A., & Parker, R. (Illustrator). (1990). Grandfather Tang’s Story. New York, NY: Dragonfly Books.

Young, E. (1989). Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China. New York, NY: Philomel Books.

Dr. Rebecca M. Giles is a Professor in the Department of Leadership and Teacher Education at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, AL where she coordinates the graduate Elementary and Early Childhood Education programs.

Dr. Paige Vituli is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Integrative Studies at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, AL where she coordinates the Interdisciplinary Studies, Educational Studies, and Art Education programs.

Dr. Susan Martin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Leadership and Teacher Education at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, AL where she coordinates the Secondary Education and ESOL programs.