Examples of Good Multicultural and Anti-Bias Literature

By Janet Schmidt

Teachers can use multicultural literature to teach about justice and fairness, anti-bias actions, and the cultures of the world. Some books do a beautiful job of stimulating interest without simplifying or stereotyping. Books that use photographs can be especially useful. Categories such as specific foods (bread, rice), actions (carrying, celebrating, loving), houses and homes, and clothing provide multiple examples of “same” and “different.” Good titles include books by Ann Morris (e.g., On the Go; Bread, Bread, Bread; and Shoes, Shoes, Shoes), Everybody Cooks Rice, by Norah Dooley, and This Is My House, by Arthur Dorros.

Some other good books invite more active engagement and learning. These books ask readers to consider their own identities and characteristics. Teachers should use these books in small groups, or at least be sure to allow plenty of time for children to respond to the questions. For example:

All the Colors We Are
By Katie Kissinger
(Redleaf Press, 1994) 32 pp.

I’m Like You… You’re Like Me:
A Child’s Book About Understanding and Celebrating Each Other

By Cindy Gainer
(Free Spirit Publishing, 1998) 42 pp.

We Are All Alike… We Are All Different
Cheltenham Elementary School
(Scholastic, 1991)

The following more challenging books tell stories about justice, conflict resolution, fairness and/or anti-bias actions:

Black Like Kyra, White Like Me
By Judith Vigna
(Albert Whitman, 1996) 32 pp.

The Play Lady
By Eric Hoffman
(Redleaf Press) 32 pp.

No Fair to Tigers
By Eric Hoffman
(Redleaf Press, 1999) 32 pp.

Best Day of the Week
By Nancy Carlsson-Paige
(Redleaf Press, 1998) 28 pp.

Reading these books can promote excitement and interest about the differences among people, and children can consider the possibilities of taking action against injustice. Children who are not from the dominant culture need to see themselves and members of other marginalized groups reflected in the books. The fact that many people have complex identities can emerge from discussions about multicultural and anti-bias books.