[Multicultural Children’s Book Day] Issues and Class Discussion

Myra here.

I am excited to join Multicultural Children’s Book Day hosted by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book and Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom. This is particularly timely since I am teaching a new course entitled Using Multicultural Children’s Books to Promote Socio-emotional Learning offered to higher-degree students who are taking their Masters or their PhD in our institution (National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University).

This week, we are tackling the controversial issues inherent in multiculturalism in children’s literature.

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And so for my offering for this blog event, I thought that it would be good to share screenshots from my planned Discussion for tomorrow evening. Our main texts for tomorrow’s discussion are chapters culled from this book, plus a few other journal articles and book chapters from other texts:


Fox, D. L. & Short, K. G. (2003). Stories matter: The complexity of cultural authenticity in children’s literature. USA: National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

We would also be looking at an expanded definition of multicultural children’s books:

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And some of the raging and contentious debates about the term “multicultural” as could be seen in this argument by Thelma Seto:

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With a rebuttal from Marc Aronson:

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And the question of whether there exists a possibility of a middle ground:

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And what its implications are for teachers, since most of my students are teaching in schools here in Singapore:

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These are only a few of the many slides that I will be sharing.

Picturebooks that will be discussed in class

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If you click on the book titles below, you’d be taken to my reviews of the said books.

Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say

Uncle Peter’s Amazing Chinese Wedding by Lenore Look and Yumi Heo

Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore and illustrated by Kristi Valiant

Mirror by Jeannie Baker

I shall update you all as to what we manage to cover tomorrow evening.

How about you, dear friends, how are you celebrating multicultural children’s book day?

*** Video ads other readers may find at the bottom of this post are NOT endorsed by GatheringBooks but are randomly included by WordPress to maintain their site. ***

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

23 comments on “[Multicultural Children’s Book Day] Issues and Class Discussion

  1. Very interesting post for Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Like that you highlight many issues I had not thought about. You really need to do the research before you write a book. I shared A LONG WALK TO WATER by Linda Sue Park, and it is based on a true story. She talked with the boy she based her story on.


    • Hi Patricia, Thanks for visiting and I’m glad that you found it interesting. 🙂 I didn’t think much about these issues before as well, and it has really awakened my sensibilities to a few nuances I might have missed before. I have yet to read A Long walk to Water. I’d head on over to your blog in a bit. My class is this evening! 🙂


  2. Pingback: Celebrating Diversity in Children's Literature

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your book list and your interesting take on multicultural books for kids. I agree! I think there are layers and layers of reasons why these books are so important and socio-emotional is a very important component that is just not addressed! Thank you so much for joining us and supporting Multicultural Children’s Book Day. We are so lucky to have you!


    • Hi Mia, Thank YOU for spearheading this along with Valarie. I just know that I have to join your party the minute Erik alerted me to it. I do feel that this is a very important issue to discuss and talk about.


  4. I made an effort to read some multi-cultural books last week for this special day, & then shared of course, but I’ve been doing that for a long time, Myra. What has enlightened me has been connecting to people in different parts of the world who are sharing books I just never hear about, like some of your books today, although two are already in our library. I hope you’ll share more of this with us! Thank you!


    • Hi Linda, I know what you mean. It’s really great being linked to like-minded individuals who bring us to never-before-understood places through literature, picturebooks in particular, or YA lit, or poetry, or even adult literature on occasion. I love ALL your recommendations too. I treasure “Teaching with Fire” the most. 🙂


  5. Interesting discussion.

    I love Mirror by Jeannie Baker. Such an uncomplicated way to show the parallels between two different worlds (uncomplicated in the telling – not the artwork, which is intricate!).

    A lot of this work is done for us in Singapore by a government which actively promotes inclusion of the major cultures. The public library is a wonderfully diverse resource, and lesser-represented cultures can also be found – no doubt librarians have developed an eye for multicultural material.


    • Hi! So great of you to drop by. I am a huge Jeannie Baker fan. Her artwork is indeed amazingly-intricate and just plain beautiful. I love most of our librarians here in Singapore, they do have an eye for great titles and are always open to even more recommendations from patrons. I am particularly happy with my institution’s librarians who acquired so many picturebooks for me for this new course that I am teaching. They are simply the greatest. To say that they’ve been extremely helpful in my course preparation would be an understatement.


  6. Great post! I love MCCBD!!! 😀 I had a great time doing it! I found a bunch of great books to review and even more to read! 🙂


  7. Thank you for such a well thought out post and teaching points. Simply fantastic. Thank you for celebrating Multicultural Children’s Book Day with us!


  8. I like to write books that celebrate our many DIFFERENCES – color, ethnicity, religion, disabilities, etc. BOOKS can show children ways to CELEBRATE THEIR DIFFERENCES. . . rather than make them into weapons that will destroy a child, his family, or a country..


    • Hi Margot. I totally agree. Our upcoming theme will look into that actually – a celebration of differences/diversity in literature. Thank you for dropping by. 🙂


  9. Thank you for taking the time to post such detailed information about some of the issues surrounding multicultural children’s books. I plan to share this valuable information with others who are interested in children’s literature.


  10. Absolutely fascinating! I would like to think that there is a middle ground, but there is some truth to the notion that writing about topics that have touched you bring the most truth. That isn’t to say that someone cannot write well about another culture, but we inherently write about what we know. This is such a perfect subject and I am thrilled to see that it is being covered by your institution.


    • Hi Michelle, I am actually reminded by what Candy Gourlay once said during the AFCC here in Singapore as well as what she has written in her book chapter for our edited book “Beyond Folktales” – you don’t just write what you know. Write who you are. 🙂


  11. Terry Doherty

    Thanks for such depth … and to Valarie and Mia for raising the voice of the discussion. i found myself nodding at your quote from Susan Guevara. Authenticity matters. Thought you might enjoy this roundtable discussion we hosted at Family Bookshelf several years ago:


    • Hi Terry! I love the link that you shared, but I find that I couldn’t leave a comment on the site itself. I shared it in G-Plus though and would also share the link with my students for our class. What a great panel discussion you had there. Wish we could do the same as well for AFCC here in Singapore. I remember us having a similar theme sometime in 2010 if I am not mistaken, and that was also a riveting discussion. Maybe it’s time to have another panel like this soon.


      • Terry Doherty

        Hi Myra! If it weren’t for the community of spammers – worse than zombies in my book! – I could leave the comments on old posts open. Thanks for sharing in in G+ and I hope your students enjoy it!


  12. Pingback: Multicultural Children's Book Day: A Recap and Some REALLY Big Thank Yous - Jump Into A Book

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