'Beachboy,' Photo by Harry Hendrickson



This is the first issue in which STANDARDS has begun an introductory listing of reviewed readings for multicultural issues in literature for children. In keeping with our general editorial policy of avoiding constructions of "culture" which focus only on "race" or "ethnicity," the books we've included here as recommended readings expand the notion of culture, to include interpersonal relationships as well as issues of economics, privilege, similarities, and differences. We encourage parents and teachers to introduce the notion of mestizaje, or mixed heritages, to children, especially as our mixed-race and mixed-cultural communities continue to grow and flourish. A few noteworthy books have been proven over time to make just about any small child joyful: we include these because, as part of our shared national culture, we believe developing a child's early self-esteem, and respecting that of others, is so vital.

The sections here are arranged thematically, with titles about Animals (including helpers and trickster mischief-makers); a page on Autobiographies and Biographies, written especially for children; in our Earth and Sky section, we review books with tales of weather, interactions between people and the earth, new beginnings, and learning respect for all living things; our All Kinds of Families section offers excellent sources about bonding within varying kinds of family constellations; in Friends, we review titles on making friends, staying friends, and standing alone; finally, our Juvenile section offers a wide range of authors and titles for older readers.

Within each section, we've notated selections here of Youngest Children's Books, under 5 years of age, to whom the stories are generally for reading aloud (although we certainly encourage all children to recognize letters and sounds of the alphabet while hearing stories, and we do know that many children read before the age of 5). The Early Readers selections offer books for children between the ages of 6 and 8; and the Books for Older Kids selections focus primarily on readers still in elementary school, who like a bit of a challenge in subject matter and vocabulary. Finally, the Juvenile Literature section offers a range of more sophisticated topics and writing styles.


Firstly, even if you're not a parent and not employed in a school environment, at STANDARDS we're including you in this message as a "teacher," because we believe that any adult who interacts with children on a consistent basis has much to offer, and children learn by example. So, whether you're an extended family member or part of community that includes children, this is a brief overview about teaching subject matter through reading, for every adult.

In reviewing these books among our editorial staff, sharing them with children at local schools, and talking to families and community members from the various cultures that tie into our work at STANDARDS, we have reached an understanding that what some of us consider appropriate, even vital, material for teaching children about the world may be culturally unsuitable for other families. We therefore strongly recommend that adults take the responsiblity to review the selected titles we've included here, to determine for yourselves what works for your home. This is no different, we think, than understanding and participating in the types of television programs your children watch, or the kinds of games they play. In the end, however, there's something for everyone, in the coming pages, so enjoy!



Future issues of STANDARDS will include sections on Poetry and Drama for young people. Let us know about your recommendations!

It is our intention to keep this site for multicultural children's literature from around the world growing and developing. If you are a parent or teacher with a book to recommend and/or a review to offer, please consider sending us your submission.


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FALL - WINTER  1998-1999

Original Photograph, "Winter Beach Boy" © 1998 by Harry Hendrickson

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