Understanding Diversity through Novels and Picture Books

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Understanding Diversity Through Novels and Picture Books goes beyond the usual multicultural lists and looks at the wide expanse of the diversity of cultures and lifestyles impacting children's lives in America today and identifies good books to have in library collections for them to read. Included are annotated titles with discussion questions from all of the identified cultures and subcultures and annotated teacher/librarian resources, print- and Web-based, as well as an excellent list of topical annotated journal articles. Grades 4-8.

Knowles and Smith examine current research on diversity and multiculturalism. They move away from the traditional aspects of multicultural education (food, fashion, folktales, festivals, and famous people) to a focus on novels and pictures books, and realistic fiction to show children with diversity issues that there are others in similar positions. The issue of authenticity (whether the author of the book should be of that culture or merely familiar with the culture) is discussed. Topics include: Ethnicities (Asian, Latino/Hispanic, African/Black, Native American, White/European, Bi/Multiracial), Exceptionalities, Ageism, Socioeconomic Status, Sexual Orientation, Gender, and Religion. The authors provide this valuable resource for libraries, schools, and communities that wish to utilize literature to help diverse students walk in the shoes of others and to match books to children and young adults to heighten understanding and acceptance. Grades 4-8.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Knowles and Smith provide entries on books that deal with diversity issues in daily life. Selected titles range from pictures books and beginning readers through general adult fiction. Opening chapters overview diversity demographics and statistics, and discuss controversies surrounding cultural authenticity in books. Chapters on various racial and ethnic groups, ageism, exceptionalities, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and religion contain brief introductions and a brief definition of the particular group, between five and 10 annotated titles, and bibliographies of fiction, picture books, and nonfiction. Entries also contain discussion questions, an annotated journal article, and basic facts and a bibliography of a featured author, plus lists of print resources, organizations, web sites, and awards."


Reference & Research Book News

"This book is a guide to librarians needing to expand their collection or give suggestions to children regarding learning about diversity issues. Its sixteen chapters cover virtually every aspect of the diversity found in our culture including: Ethnic (Asian, Latino/Hispanic, African/Black, Native American, bi- and multi-racial), Age, Gender, Religion, Income level, Sexual Orientation, Religion and others….The philosophy followed is to suggest reading materials at the child's level (Grades 4-8). It includes both novels and picture books presenting the diversity issues through the eyes of the 'different' to allow the child to 'walk in the shoes' of the others and perhaps to heighten understanding and acceptance."



"Knowles, a teacher, and Smith, a children's librarian, have constructed a guide focusing on using novels and picture books to help children in grades 4-8 with diversity issues….Chapters are based on the Big 8 Cultural Identifiers (ability, ethnicity, religion, etc.) created by the National Association of Independent Schools, and each contains a short annotated list of titles, a biography of additional titles without annotations, discussion questions, information about a representative author, an annotated journal article, and other resources, such as organizations and Web sites. This is a valuable resource for libraries, schools, and communities that wish to use literature to heighten understanding and acceptance."


Booklist/Professional Reading

"Recommended for collection development on diversity issues and for a variety of curriculum uses in classrooms and school libraries."


Teacher Librarian

"The authors have compiled a timely and relevant resource focused on diversity as portrayed in novels and picture books, specifically geared for grades four through eight….The resulting reference work is a springboard for librarians, teachers, social workers, parents, and others seeking a comprehensive bibliography of realistic fiction that depicts children with diversity issues and shows a range of response to these challenges. It will help match diverse children with appropriate literature, and others to the walk a mile in my shoes experience."


MultiCultural Review

School Library Journal

By trying to cover every permutation of diversity, from ageism to sexual orientation, Knowles and Smith dilute their focus and deliver too little. After brief introductions to general research on diversity and literary authenticity, they devote the bulk of the book to 13 chapters that highlight different groups of people. Each section includes three to eight annotated titles related to the topic, followed by a longer bibliography with basic publication information. Aside from their criterion of "literature with an emphasis on realism," the authors provide no explanation for their selections, including which books they chose to feature with annotations. Fiction and nonfiction titles range from picture books to some adult titles. Although reading levels are usually provided, many books are simply labeled "juvenile." Each chapter includes a few discussion questions and minimal facts plus a list of books by a "featured author." Many of the discussion questions will likely lead nowhere, with queries such as, "Do you believe that all Asians are very intelligent?" Most resources seem designed for teachers, although some are aimed at parents or grandparents, such as Andrew Weil's Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide. The book devotes four pages to publication information reprinted from Children's Magazine Guide. In short, the volume lacks focus and depth. These shortcomings are compounded by generalizations, contradictory and confusing definitions, undocumented statements, and incomplete and inaccurate citations and URLs.-Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591584407
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/28/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 158
  • Sales rank: 1,014,235
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.34 (d)

Meet the Author

LIZ KNOWLES, Ed.D. received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Central Connecticut State University, a master's degree in Reading from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and an Ed.D. in Curriculum Development and Systemic Change, also from Nova Southeastern University. Liz has been an elementary teacher, grades K-6, for 30 years. She has also been an adjunct professor, teaching graduate courses in reading, at Florida Atlantic University. She currently serves as Director of Professional Development and Curriculum for both campuses (Ft. Lauderdale and Boca Raton) of Pine Crest School in Florida.

MARTHA SMITH received her undergraduate degree in Library Science from Eastern Michigan University and a master's degree of education in Library Science from the University of South Florida. Martha has been a media specialist for over 20 years in the Pre-K through 8th grade setting and is currently serving as Library Media Specialist at Pine Crest School, Boca Raton, Florida.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction 1

Chapter 2 Research 3

Chapter 3 Authenticity 7

Chapter 4 African/Black 9

Chapter 5 Asians 21

Chapter 6 Biracial/Multiracial 33

Chapter 7 Latino (Latin America)/Hispanic (Spanish) 39

Chapter 8 Middle East 49

Chapter 9 Native American/First Nation/North American Indigenous 63

Chapter 10 White/European 73

Chapter 11 Ageism 81

Chapter 12 Exceptionalities 89

Chapter 13 Gender 97

Chapter 14 Sexual Orientation 103

Chapter 15 Socioeconomic Status 109

Chapter 16 Religion 115

Works Cited 121

References 123

Magazines 129

Author Index 133

Title Index 141

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