Criteria for Evaluating Multicultural Materials
Temple, Martinez, Yokota, and Naylor (1998) offer the following criteria for
evaluating multicultural children's books and stories:
- "Do the author and illustrator present insider perspectives?
The author should maintain an insider's mind-set and point of view when writing
about a cultural group in order to portray it authentically. ... Illustrations
should be accurate, true to the time period portrayed, and culturally authentic.
They must not stereotype, homogenize, or ridicule any cultural group. Racial
groups should be depicted with a variety of physical features that are not
overemphasized. Illustrations play a major role in transmitting cultural images,
especially in picture books. Often, a book's cover illustration sends an immediate
message about the book's perspective." (pp. 101-102)
- "Is the culture portrayed multidimensionally? Cultural
groups should be presented multidimensioally in order to help readers realize
the depth and breadth of experiences within cultures. ... Cultural groups
should not be presented through images that could lead to stereotyping." (p.
- "Are cultural details naturally integrated? The flow of
the story should be maintained while the cultural details necessary to make
it come alive are related. The details should be presented in context so that
cumbersome explanations are not necessary. If longer explanations are needed,
footnotes or endnotes can serve to clarify." (p. 102)
- "Are details accurate and interpretation current? Details
must be accurate and true to the situation in which they are presented. Factual
errors, omissions, and changes are sometimes indicative of sloppy research
and presentation. Other times, these problems may actually reflect an attempt
on the author's part to meet the expectations of a mainstream readership with
preconceived notions of cultures. Series books that focus on children in various
countries are sometimes guilty of such intentional errors. ... There are also
series books that are written according to a formula, such as books about
other countries in which authors 'fill in the blanks' of standardized formats.
In many cases, these authors have no first-hand experience with the country
they write about." (p. 102)
- "Is the language used authentically? The language and
dialect spoken by characters should authentically portray the kinds of interactions
typical of those characters, and terminology that refers to aspects of culture
should be acceptable by contemporary standards." (p. 103)
- "Is the collection balanced? A special consideration is
the need to present children with a balanced collection of multicultural books.
The term 'collection refers to the books available in a school, classroom,
or public library, and also to the books selected to serve as teaching units
within a classroom." (p. 103)
- "Does the work present cultural details authentically?
The work should allow the readers to experience cultures different from their
own. If the work reflects their culture, readers should be able to relate
to and take pride in the work. If the work is not authentic, it can perpetuate
stereotypes or provide misleading information.
- Does the author write from the perspective of a cultural insider
or outsider? Being a member of the culture in the literature makes
it more likely that the author is accurately representing the cultural group.
- Does the work promote stereotypes? When literature depicts
nonmainstream cultures in a way that is condescending or stereotypical, there
is little value of having the literature in the classroom.
- Which cultural group is being represented? Teachers need
to be sure that groups in addition to African Americans, Asian Americans,
Latin Americans and Native Americans are represented in the literature used.
For example, Jewish Americans, Appalachian Americans, and European Americans
also have cultural experiences that can be shared outside of the 'generic'
American experience." (p. 92)
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