Representation in children literature is what I believe to be the most important. In their formative years, it is integral to build their identity and the art they consume effects that identity. Kids tend to garner low self-esteem when they open a book and cannot identify with the characters in front of them. No kid should have to evaluate what little they know of life through someone foreign in concept, or worse, through stereotypes.
Below are excerpts taken from an article that shows the significant effects multicultural literature has on children. The entire research project can be read on the site provided above.
Pioneer researcher, Florez-Tighe (1983), was one of the first educators to advocate the use of multicultural literature in school curriculum.
Taylor (1997), a more modern researcher, conducted a study of twenty-four African- American and Hispanic American fifth grade students from the Southwest. The children were given twenty-four picture books and were instructed to give their opinions of each book.
Twenty children “did not give high approval ratings to the melting pot books” and identified largely with the culturally conscious ones (Jambo Means Hello, by Muriel Feelings, Tar Beach, by Faith Ringgold, and She Come Bringing me that Little Baby Girl by Eloise Greenfield, were their favorites.)
Taylor’s (1997) results suggest that to increase an African- American child’s interest in reading, and improve their reading proficiency, culturally conscious books can be a valuable asset.