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EDS 206 Multicultural Children's Lit J. Welch: Home

Children's Lit Awards

There are a few major ways to learn how to critically read a children's book:

  1. Children's Literature Awards
  2. Blogs, websites and book reviews from a specific perspective, written by people of that identify or from that community
  3. Find an online interview with the author or illustrator who speaks to the book (search tip: author's name and interview, or author's name and children's book) using Google or the database TeachingBooks (link below).

Children's Literature Award winners and honor books are one of the best places to find titles of high quality kid's books. There are many different kinds of awards that have appeared in the past 100 years, awarding various kinds of ethnicities, backgrounds, identities, communities as well as STEM subjects. Most award websites will show lists of past and current winners, so it's easy to find titles.

A second way to use award websites is to read the criteria that the jury use to select the winners and honor titles. By spending some time reading and understanding how the experts choose a winner, you also learn how to critically read and evaluate books by using their criteria in your own reading.

Another place to learn how to improve your reading and evaluating of kid's books is to go to online places where the author/illustrator or experts or people from that community are talking about kid's books that show representation from their community or identity. Their own perspective is important because you are getting a first hand account of why a book is "good" or "not recommended", and especially why. 

            Example of "not recommended" books featuring Native American characters here

Once you feel comfortable reading kid's books with a critical eye, you'll look at kid's books with new eyes.

Group Activity

Each table has between 4-6 selected picture books, each from a different ethnicity or community of belonging. Please try and critically read as many as you can and think about the following:

  1. What community of belonging or ethnic group does this book represent?
  2. Who wrote and/or illustrated the book? Are they from the community or ethnic group? 
  3. When was the book published? This can be informative as to how this group was represented in the past and how things have changed (or not!)
  4. Do you see any potential clichés or stereotypes in the way the illustrations or text are used to represent the characters of the setting? 
  5. Are stereotypes and clichés helpful or useful in teaching children about others? Or could they be hurtful and reductive? 
  6. For those of us who identify as Midwestern and White of Northern European ancestry, we don't always realize that most characters in kid's books look like us (see the data-driven infographs below). As a pre-service teacher, do you see this as problematic, or not? Why or why not?
  7. Have you ever been in a situation where you were in the minority because of your values, beliefs, religion, sexual orientation, skin color, hair type, clothing, body type, etc? How did that feel to you? 

If time permits, find another book using the library's search tool:

  1. Type in a search term (native american, mexican, latinx, muslim, african american, hmong, asian american, japanese, disabilities, etc)
  2. Before clicking on search, change the drop down menu to Curriculum Center
  3. On the results page, look at the filters on the left, and scroll down until you see "Genre" and pick picture books
  4. Any result with a call # that starts with E followed by three letters (ex: E Seu) is a picture book
  5. If the book says it's available, go find the book on the picture book shelves and repeat steps 1-6 above