Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Multicultural Picture Books

My America is written Jan Spivey Gilchrist and illustrations by Gilchrist and Ashley Bryan. The target audience of this picture book is first or second grade students.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Summary: This multicultural book highlights that America is made up of many different types of people, not everyone is the same race or ethnicity and that is what makes the United States unique and open to opportunity.
This picture book is different than most picture books that I have come across, especially ones dealing with multicultural issues. The text of this book is composed of a poem. All of the text is an on going poem that stretches through out the pages. The poem speaks to the readers as well, asking them questions such as “have you seen my country?”, “have you seen my land?”, “have you seen my people?”, etc. This idea of questioning helps readers stop and think about their surroundings and what their aspects of their world are made up of. Diversity is a huge idea within schools in this new and ever changing day and age where it is more crucial than ever to explain to students that everyone does have different backgrounds but everyone still is excepted. It is okay to be different and everyone as a whole is who makes up communities.
To go along with the beautiful poem of the text, the illustrations are incredibly detailed. They are vibrant and full of color and complement the text well. The illustrations do a good job to showing different genders and races of people. As students read along with the book, they want and should be able to identify with the people within it to make it more personable and meaningful. The poem as a whole is also written all together in the back of the book on the last page to more completely represent the poem since it is broken down by page within the story. This makes it easy to photocopy to potentially pass out to the class to use with an activity.
This book is a great introduction into different writing activities. Students can do any number of activities such as writing their own poems on culture, identity, ethnic backgrounds, or gender. Writing does not even need to be a poem. Students can write in any format relating it back to any of the possibilities related above.
Visit this website for multicultural lesson plans and resources: http://www.cloudnet.com/~edrbsass/edmulticult.htm

The Skin You Live In is a multicultural picture book written by Michael Tyler and illustrated by David Lee Csicsko. This book was originally intended to be used within the Chicago Children’s Museum located at Navy Pier in Chicago, IL. The Chicago Children’s museum is a lively learning experience that allows children to take adventures with their families and friends and explore the cultural diversity that is present in Chicago. For more information visit: www.ChiChildrensMuseum.org
The target audience for this picture book is preschool through second grade students of all different races and backgrounds.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Summary: This book points out that one’s skin is something that is unique to every person but it is also something that everyone has is common. Skin protects us, keeps us warm, radiates, and allows us to be who we are! No matter the skin color, everyone has something in common.
This book would be great for any early elementary school classroom. It simply explains that skin color should not matter who you are and even though the color may be different it serves the same purpose for everyone. It is similar but different at the same time and this book really hits home with this message, especially at the end of the book. This is great for younger students because schools are becoming more and more diverse and not all students may understand why they look different from one another. Stressing that is not a bad thing and that there are similarities help students understand that it okay to be different from one another and not to be scared of being different. The book is unique with it’s rhyming; sing songy lyrics that grace the pages. According to T&J, the lyrical flow of the text makes it a great read aloud to students and helps push the story along.
Other picture books that are similar to The Skin You Live In or would complement nicely in a text set would be Mem Fox’s Whoever You Are, We are Different, We Are The Same by Bobbi Kates, The Colors of Us  by Karen Katz, and What I like About Me by Allia Zobel Nolan. All these are great multicultural books that can be used in a classroom and expose students to different aspects of multiculturalism. Check out amazon.com or other book websites that provide reviews to find out more information.

A Rainbow of Friends is written and illustrated by P.K. Hallinan. This multicultural picture book appeals to students in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Summary: A Rainbow of Friends highlights the different attributes that friends can have such as clothing, skin color, ethnicity, and gender. Even though all children are different and can appear different, it does not mean that they cannot be friends!
“Still, each friend is given a shore of our hearts so no one feels different, unloved, or apart”.
This would be an idea picture book for kindergarteners. Kindergarten is the first opportunity for most students to start to make friends and be exposed to different types of other children who may be different from them appearance wise. Especially with schools becoming more culturally diverse, I believe that as teachers it is our responsibility to expose students to different cultural aspects early so they can gain an understanding and promote a level of respect towards one another. A Rainbow of Friends is full of great quotes about acceptance such as “An though we may wander a bit wide or far, our friends still accept us the way that we are” and “ Our goals can be reached with the greatest success by trusting that others are doing their best”. The words of this book are inspiring and motivating, urging students to be accepting and know that is it okay to be different and that everyone can be accepted.
(This is a website for a lesson plan that goes along with A Rainbow of Friends! http://makeworksheets.com/samples/lessonplans/daily.html)

Not only do books similar to this promote awareness but they can also be linked to prevention. Bullying is another big issue within schools right now and being aware of cultural differences, whether it is physical appearance or ethnic backgrounds, students gain and understand that could reduce bullying. Bullying usually results when students are unfamiliar with something or feel threatened by others and if students are aware of differences and know how to accept them, it could do wonders in the school. Once again if this starts at an early age, like kindergarten, it is something that students can take with them all through out their academic careers.
Click here to visit a bullying prevention website for both children and adults.
The illustrations do a great job at showing diversity. There are different genders and races of children represented through out the book all interacting with one another. Visually, this sends a positive message that everyone can play games, talk, sing, and do a variety of activities together. The illustrations are also vibrant and eye catching which helps draw the readers in and to become more involved with the story. The children throughout the book are also drawn and young, kindergarten aged children that relates to the audience for this picture book.
This a fantastic classroom must have for primary grade teachers or parents!  

1 comment:

  1. A Rainbow of Friends: I also blogged on this book and thought it was a good multicultural book. I loved how the illustration showed kids having different ethnic and racial backgrounds and drawn with different traits like, hair body type, etc. I think a good activity to do would be to have students create their own rainbow of friends about their own friends describing all their differences and why they appreciate these differences.