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Multicultural Education in Early Elementary Classrooms: Books

March 17, 2015

Over the last 10 weeks I have been entering early childhood classrooms with the focus of multicultural education as part of my dissertation research. I am using two theoretical frameworks, however mostly focusing on Banks’ (1993) and McIntosh’s (2000)—which essentially describes 5 levels or approaches to multicultural curriculum implementation starting with the most “superficial” or Eurocentric all the way to engaging students in some sort of social action to address an injustice or inequality discussed.

As the researcher, I am also providing the classrooms with literature for the teachers to use once I am done with my data collection. Below, I am introducing and reviewing two of the books I will be providing to the classrooms, which consist of 3, 4, and 5-year-old students. I chose these books after personal research. I have no “kick-back” from these books. They are truly books I have researched myself, read, and have seen value in as teacher implement multicultural curriculum in preschool classrooms.

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Little Humans of New York, by Brandon Stanton

Brandon Stanton is a photographer that travels primarily around New York City to interview and photograph individuals who live in New York City. Little Humans of New York is a book Brandon put together of children living in New York, one of the most diverse cities in the United States. Not only does this book show real pictures of children traveling around New York City with their parents, but the words the author puts with the pictures instills a sense of social action—that no matter how old you are or who you are, you can do big things, including empathy, free expression of one’s self, and diversity including culture, race, ability, age, gender, etc. While the words are simple, the pictures lend themselves to intense and interesting discussions. My husband and I bought the book for our children (ages 3, 3, 5). After interacting with my own children while reading the book I realized the curiosity children have when interacting with this book. Brandon does a great job of combining the pictures of the children and words in a way to create open-ended conversations in any environment with children.

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Maddi’s Fridge, by Lois Brandt

Maddi’s Fridge is a story about two friends, Sofia and Maddi, who play together every day. However, Sofia found out that her friend Maddi’s fridge was “empty” compared to hers at home. A majority of the story is Sofia trying to sneak food to her friend Maddi in her backpack, but all the food she decides to take does not keep well or makes a big mess. Although Maddi asked Sofia not to tell anyone, Sofia finally decided to tell her mother. At that point in the story Sofia and her mother take action—social action—to change and influence another person’s life that seems unfair and unequal. This book, from the reviews online and the discussion points that come with the story, led children (even as young as 3, 4, and 5) to think about social injustices and take action—social action. The book talks about hunger in the United States and in communities, however this book could also be used as a great jumping off point for other needs in the children’s community—such as books with the lack of a library, or presents around holiday time.

Both of the books described above have the potential to be a great addition to lesson plans for teachers who are consciously implementing multicultural education from preschool up through other early elementary grades. However, only reading the books or making books available to children is not enough. Teachers have the responsibility also to plan, question, and understand the potential for these books, along with other realistic (children characters and/or non-fiction) books have for classrooms.

Additionally, a great website I came across while researching books was http://www.amightygirl.com/ — if you have time or are interested in implementing multicultural concepts this would be a great place to start!

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