35). Information can also be added that relates to families, parents, and others whose primary culture and language are not in the mainstream.
Using childrens literature to teach diversity: It is not a new idea for teachers to use literature to educate young children. But because Gillian Potter and colleagues assert that teachers are being challenged “as never before” to create experiences that are culturally meaningful to all children — literature has come under a new and vitally important focus. And for those purposes, childrens literature is a “powerful resource” to aid children in the knowledge of their known world, and literature allows them to travel to other worlds and “explore the unfamiliar” (Potter, 2009, p. 108).
For children of diverse cultures literature enhances their development of language, it fosters intellectual development and supports the growth of the childs personality and moral development as well, Potter goes on (p. 2). Moreover, quality childrens literature can facilitate a better understanding of others, “thus providing exposure to models of pro-social behaviors and opportunities to engage in reasoning, discussion, and debate,” Potter concludes.
Multicultural activities: In the Diversity Council Web site the writers offer ideas for teachers in multicultural classroom settings. One project presents an early childhood lesson that teaches children “being different is okay.” The children celebrate “Hinamatursi Day” (the Day of the Dolls), a celebration in Japan that honors ancestors. Every child is asked to bring a doll, and one-by-one the children take turns explaining why their doll (or stuffed animal) is special to them. After lunch, the children have a Japanese style tea party, with everyone sitting on the floor. Later, the children constructed paper kimonos, and read a book about life in Japan.
Conclusion: It is up to teachers to do the research necessary to be fully prepared for a diverse classroom. There are many ways to approach diversity in a class of young people, as reviewed in this paper.
Some suggestions from articles and Websites are worthy and pertinent, and should be embraced. For example, Barbara Biles notes that preschool children tend to believe that because other parts of their bodies change, why wont the color of their skin also change. Biles suggests the teacher set out several nylon knee-high stockings in a variety of shares (black, tan, pink, yellow, red and white). Have children try them on their arms or legs. “Can you find one that is the same color as your skin?” The teacher should ask. The point of this is that skin color differences are “interesting and desirable” (Biles, 2008, p. 3). The larger point is, teachers are responsible for presenting fair, interesting, and culturally diverse lessons, to help children get a good start in a culturally diverse society.
Biles, Barbara. (2008). Activities that Promote Racial and Cultural Awareness. KCET. Retrieved
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Gonzalez-Mena, Janet, and Pulido-Tobiassen, Dora. (1999). Teaching “Diversity”: A Place to Begin. Early Childhood Today. Retrieved January 26, 2010, from http://www2.scholartic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3499&print=1.
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Potter, Gillian, Thirumurthy, Vidya, Szecsi, Tunde, and Salakaja, Manana. (2009). Childrens literature to help young children construct understandings about diversity: perspectives from four cultures. Childhood Education, 86(2), 108-113.
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