Considerations for Evaluating Young Adult Literature Multicultural Books (page 2)
Ask the following questions when evaluating multicultural books for young adults:
- Does the book meet the qualifications for good literature?
- Does the book exhibit the qualities expected in its genre?
Accuracy and Currency of Facts and Interpretation
- Are thoughts and emotions portrayed authentically?
- In historical fiction, is the content realistic for the time period?
- Does the content intensify the reader’s sensitivity to the feelings of others?
- Does the author present a balanced view of the issues in the book, especially nonfiction?
Stereotypes in Lifestyles
- Are culturally diverse characters and their settings contrasted unfavorably with an unstated norm of Anglo American middle class suburbia?
- Does the story go beyond oversimplifications of reality and offer genuine insights into another lifestyle or culture?
- Do European Americans in the story have all the power and make the decisions?
- Do people from diverse backgrounds function in essentially subservient roles?
- Does a character from a diverse background have to exhibit superior qualities (excel in sports, get A’s) to succeed?
- How are “problems” presented, conceived, and resolved in the story?
- Are people from diverse backgrounds considered to be “the problem”?
- Do solutions ultimately depend on the benevolence of a European American?
- Are the achievements of girls and women based on their own initiative and intelligence, or is their success due to their good looks or to their relationships with boys?
- Are sex roles incidental or paramount to characterization and plot?
- Could the same story be told if the sex roles were reversed?
- Would the book limit or promote an adolescent’s self-image and self-esteem?
- Would the book limit or promote an adolescent’s aspirations?
- Can a reader from any culture become so involved with the book that he or she can identify with the characters and vicariously experience their feelings?
- Is terminology current or appropriate for the time period?
- Does the language refrain from including pejorative terms unless germane to the story?
- Do any dialects reflect the varieties found in contemporary life?
- Does the dialect reflect negatively on an entire culture?
- What qualifications does the author (or illustrator) have to write about a multicultural topic?
- Is the author (or illustrator) able to think as a member of another cultural group and to intellectually and emotionally become a member of that group?
- If the author (or illustrator) is not a member of the culturally diverse group being written about, is there anything in the author’s (or illustrator’s) background that would specifically recommend her or him for this book?
- If a book has to do with the feelings and insights of women, does a male author (or illustrator) present these appropriately?
- Are there stereotypes, oversimplifications, and generalizations in the illustrations?
- Do pictures demean or ridicule characters?
- Is there tokenism or European Americans with tinted or colored faces?
- Is sufficient individuality and diversity depicted within cultural groups?
Sources: Questions developed, in part, from the following:
Jordan, A. D. (1996a). Books of other cultures. Teaching and Learning Literature, 5(4), 23–25.
Jordan, A. D. (1996c). Welcome to my world: Books of other cultures. Teaching and Learning Literature, 5(4), 15–22.
Miller-Lachman, L. (1992). Our family, our friends, our world: An annotated guide to significant multicultural books for children and teenagers. New Providence, NJ: R. R. Bowker.
Ten quick ways to analyze children’s books for racism and sexism. (November 3, 1974). Interracial Books for Children, 5(3), 6–7.
© ______ 2006, Allyn & Bacon, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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