Multicultural Literature in Schools

This semester, students in READ 6310 Children’s and Adolescent Literature were asked to contribute a post to this blog.

By Sandra Lozoya

Multicultural literature is literature that includes a variety of cultures. The world is made of billions of different people with several diverse cultures. Here in the United States, we can see some of those different cultures. In our schools however, we don’t let our students know that the world, the United States, and even the schools itself, are made up by a mix of cultures. Introducing Multicultural literature in our schools would be a way to open our student’s minds and let them know that it’s ok to not celebrate Christmas, and that it’s ok to have a different color of skin, that it’s ok to have quinceneras and that it’s ok to have different beliefs.

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The purpose of school has always been to educate. Some may argue against “teaching cultures in school” since it may be misunderstood as imposing cultures but no one is imposing anything to anyone. One of the biggest problems with today’s society is ignorance. Ignorance is the lack of knowing something due to the absence of information about it. When a person doesn’t know about a topic he or she becomes defensive towards it. It is human nature to be scared to something that is unknown. Therefore this is why multicultural literature is essential in today’s society.

Opponents to multicultural literature may also argue that multicultural literature in a school may only lead to an increase in stereotyping cultures, Nonetheless an idea of the type of culture is better than to pretend it doesn’t exist. The problem of stereotyping would be targeted by explaining to students that not everyone in the culture acts the way the book may be telling them. The students could study their own culture with literature and establish the similarities and differences they have with the characters in the literature. With the idea of this concept, they can have an understanding that other cultures work the same way.

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Multicultural literature can also be a great tool to help decrease bullying in schools. A lot of the bullying going on in schools is due to the fact that every student is different. For example, students leave out the kid with an accent or the one who comes from a “weird” family. It is important that children grow up with the knowledge that every person is unique and comes from a different type of family. It is also important to enforce the students to be proud of their culture and who they choose to be.

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In addition, it is vital for students to be aware that no matter what their culture is they deserve respect and they should never let anyone make them feel inferior. The biggest mistake of society is believing there is ONE and only one correct way to live. In reality there is no right or wrong culture to follow, but several different ones, especially here in the United States where we are a soup of cultures in a big, great bowl.

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