By Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern
Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern is an author who adores exploring all the world has to offer! Her appreciation of travel and uniqueness of culture has been captured in the pages of her books. Writer of the fascinating Charlie’s Adventure series, Jacqueline is here today to share her insights into the importance of multicultural literature. Thank you, Jacqueline! 😊
The art of storytelling is found in every culture around the world. Stories have the power to connect us all. They are informative, inspiring and uniting. Stories are told in many ways across cultures and this adds to their beauty and uniqueness. They build tradition and embrace cultural values. When developing ‘Charlie’s Adventures…in Hawaii’, I wanted to showcase the hula, an exquisite dance that at its heart is a form of storytelling. Each movement of the hula represents a word, hula dancers move to language not merely to rhythm. Similarly, most countries around the world have their own way of sharing their stories.
Stories are important within cultures and equally, if not more, important shared across cultures. Multicultural literature is a beautiful tool that helps build cultural awareness and cultivate respect and tolerance.
Multicultural literature for children can play an essential part in fostering an inclusive and empathetic outlook at an early age. Reading stories to a child that are embedded in a cultural context can assist in broadening their outlook and understanding of the world we live in.
Multicultural children’s literature opens a door to a different world, a different way of thinking, acting and behaving. It also accentuates the humanistic similarities we all have and reinforces the fact that we are all interconnected in some way. These stories can quench stereotypes and provides a platform that embraces diversity and celebrates uniqueness. It provides a premise to nurture global citizens, who are accepting and conversant.
The challenge with multicultural literature for children is, ensuring a book is authentic and accurate in the way it portrays a particular culture. They need to be written mindfully and with reverence toward a culture. They need to be robustly researched and sound in their representation. There have been several books that have done this well including Whoever You Are by Mem Fox and Tea with Milk by Allen Say. If a multicultural book is produced well there is a tremendous amount of benefits for a child.
Children can relate to multicultural books in many ways. If they have friends from other cultures, these books may provide further context into their friends lives. If they are from a specific ethnic group, stories that present their ethnicity can empower them and help build resilience. In multi-cultural societies, these books assist in building bridges, connecting the diversity found in the fabric of these communities.
For children unable to travel, multicultural literature can transport them from the familiar to exotic destinations full of adventure. It can give them a glimpse into what children in another country experience and what life might be like outside their homes.
Multicultural books can touch on issues that will have significance even as a child grows and evolves into adulthood (it can highlight world issues such as poverty and injustice). Topics that can be difficult to discuss with a child are eloquently presented in the symbolism of these thoughtful and reflective books.
There is growing evidence of the importance of multicultural books for children. They are significant pieces of work. They help emphasise that there is much to learn from other cultures and great beauty around us. Hearing stories from other cultures binds us. They help us grow personally and collectively. The richness of multicultural literature may not only benefit our children but can help broaden our own views too.
Jacqueline developed the Charlie’s Adventures series of children’s books to encourage children to learn more about the world and journey far and wide discovering, appreciating and understanding.