The Visual Appeal of Multicultural Books

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

By M. Salinas

As a little girl I was raised in the Rio Grande Valley, in the city of Edinburg. When I was in preschool I was taught how to read and from then I was able to advance into my second language, English. At the beginning of my elementary years, even with trouble speaking fluent English, I would pick up English books with interesting front covers. I know everyone says don’t judge a book by its cover, yet I did that throughout my school years. I’m a visual person and always have been. Even though some the books weren’t as good as I expected them to be and didn’t relate to me; I read through them. This helped me eventually gain general knowledge through literacy. The problem about it is that the books I would pick up were books about the life I wished I had and not relevant to my own. This could cause a lot of disappointment in a child’s life as they grow older and limit their understanding of self-identity, especially if they are from different cultures. Books about different cultures can influence students to be able to really understand who they are and the diversity the world is made up of.

The necessity of multicultural books being present in the classroom should be a teacher’s obligation. Everyone is different, no two people think alike, even if raised in the same environment. Having a multicultural library can help motivate children to read about their own culture or simply another one that they are interested about.

These books should be presented to children starting in an early childhood education program. The problem is that most of these books don’t have interesting or captivating front covers or illustrations for young children. Coming back to the visual stimulating book covers I chose when I was younger, even though they had no relation to me or my life, the colors in the books intrigued me enough to want to pick them up and finish them. I strongly believe if a book isn’t being read a lot, it’s more than likely the cover and illustrations that need some kind of update. Instead of picking up books that could be able to be meaningful to a Latino student, the student more than likely is picking up a book with some stereotypical superhero that only speaks English. Adding more color, bolder objects, or simply something that brings curiosity to the child’s mind would be a great way to update these books. I believe many multicultural books stereotypes could be destroyed, and like this everyone will eventually be treated equally and children will be able to gain perspectives of scenarios they’ve never encountered.

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