Awareness, Access, and Understanding

Gaining Cultural Competence through Multi-Cultural Literature

A Race & Pedagogy Conference Panel Sponsored by Collins Memorial Library

Panelists | Resources | Booklists

This interactive presentation will focus on the importance of multi-cultural literature in helping foster a dialog about cultural awareness and understanding in the classroom for both the student and the teacher. The session brings together local educators and librarians to share in a dialog about how literature can be used in the classroom as a powerful tool to increase awareness and enhance cultural understanding. This panel discussion directly relates to THEME 3: Dilemmas and New Directions in Pedagogy About Race. Participants will be actively engaged in discussions as well as interpreting images from local library collections to help reinforce and build culturally competent approaches to teaching. The session will also include a display of multi-cultural reading materials and provide reading lists from local libraries.


Dr. Christine Kline

(Dean Emerita of the School of Education, University of Puget Sound)
Dr. Kline's presentation will focus on the critical role of multicultural literature in sponsoring the fullest literacy development in all children and youth: literacy as skill in reading the world across intellectual, cultural, and civic arenas.

Susan Anderson-Newham

(Early Learning Supervising Librarian for the Pierce County Library System)
Ms. Anderson-Newham's presentation, "Multi-Cultural Materials for Children: Where Do We Stand and What Do We Need?" will focus on the books currently being published for children while discussing the gaps in those currently available and those that are sorely needed.

Dr. Terry Beck

(Professor of Education, University of Puget Sound)
The use of multi-cultural literature in the classroom raises many issues for the teacher. Not all multi-cultural literature treats different cultural and racial groups in ways that are respectful. Many teachers were raised with images that present different races and ethnicities in ways that we fail to see as problematic. Dr. Beck will explore the question: How do we select books that bring in underrepresented groups without inadvertently creating harmful stereotypes?

Beth Patin

(Ph.D. Candidate, University of Washington)
Ms. Patin's presentation will focus on how using images (both photos and illustrations) can increase awareness and understanding, and foster discussions in the classroom. Attendees will be introduced to the concept of Visual Interpretive Anlaysis and how this technique can be used in the classroom to raise cultural awareness. Attendees will actively participate in conducting a VIA using examples of images from books in the Collins Memorial Library and Pierce County Library collections.



Recommended by our panelists:

Creating a Visual Interpretative Analysis (Rutgers University)

Visual Interpretive Analysis of Children's Picture Book Illustrations (Rutgers University)

Evaluating Children's Literature (OSPI - State of Washington)

Children's Book Council

National Council of Social Studies Notable Trade Books

American Indians in Children's Literature

ALA Coretta Scott King Book Awards

Center for the Book (Library of Congress) Booklists

Themed Resources for Teachers (Library of Congress)



"Great Multicultural Books for Young Children" compiled by panelist Susan Anderson-Newham

Suggested multicultural literature reading lists at with direct links to owning libraries:

Americas Book Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature

Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award

Woodson Book Award

Pura Belpre Award

Asian Pacific American Award for Literature

Coretta Scott King Book Award

Children's Africana Book Award

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