Multiculturalism- Bring the World into Your Stories
by CHRISTINA FARLEY on FEBRUARY 15, 2010
The big buzzword these days in children’s writing seems to be ‘multiculturalism’. What an exciting time! There is so much out there in the world to enrich children’s literature. But I think it’s important to note that multiculturalism is more than just the race of our characters. I’ve lived overseas 10 years and I’m just now getting the concept of it!
So the question is, how do I fuse multiculturalism into my stories? Here are a couple of starters:
1. Food- I love how Jill Santopolo brought in the Italian culture into her story The Nina, The Pinta and Vanishing Treasure through foods and words. Create characters who love fried rice rather than pizza or who crave baklava rather than a chocolate bar.
2. Holidays- There are so many more holidays out there than the typical Halloween or Valentine’s Day. Check out this site to find new holidays for your characters to celebrate.
3. Languages- Try new words or sayings in your stories. Autumn Cornwell had fun with this by having her character learn Malay words as she encountered her adventures in Carpe Diem.
4. Traditions- What do your characters do on important events that show their uniqueness? Do they set shoes by the fire rather than stockings? Are they painting eggs in the Polish tradition instead of the die kits? Do they bow to their elders or take their shoes off at the door?
5. Travel- Get you characters out into the world. Expose them to new settings and see the world with new eyes.
Multiculturalism is so much more than even this. But it’s a start. How about you? Any ideas on how you bring the world into your stories?