Multicultural Book Evaluation by Touro TESOL Candidate Luz Alina Rivas

In this assignment, I asked Touro teacher candidates to select and evaluate multicultural books. Here a parsed version of the assignment: With thousands of books on the market, and dozens of publishers vying for your business, the selection of appropriate classroom materials is far from a simple process. High-quality multicultural literature shares five major characteristics: accuracy, expertise, respect, purpose, and quality. These five characteristics serve as excellent evaluation criteria. Each is discussed below, and sample questions for assessing these characteristics are offered. Your textbook evaluation should answer to all these points.

 

BibblioburoThis contribution is by Luz Alina Rivas, a TESOL teacher candidate at the graduate school of education, Touro College.

Multicultural Book Share 1 – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journeys anthologies Dual Language Classroom books: Biblioburro; A True Story from Colombia/Biblioburro; Una Historia Real de Colombia – Grades 2-3

In an effort to find high-quality multicultural literature and evaluate my textbook materials, I probed through 3rd Grade – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journey anthologies. I search for five major characteristics: accuracy, expertise, respect, purpose, and quality in the anthologies stories: Roberto Clemente & Trail of tears. They were outstanding. However, I also found one of the best selection of multicultural and social justice books for children, YA, and educators. It is a dual language book added to these for a 3rd Grade reading curriculum titled Biblioburro; A True Story from Colombia by Jeanette Winter.

Accuracy is shown in the colorful illustrations of this multicultural social justice children’s book. Cultural aspects such as basic illustrations of animals, food, dress, flora and fauna from Colombia’s landscapes are evident and appear to be painted in a folk art tradition style. Diversity exists among the members of each cultural group portrayed in the story.  Each member of an ethnic group has slightly different facial features although not detailed and realistic in appearance. Groups of people do not appear to have identical faces in illustrations; they merely appear allegorical due to the style. Non-English words are spelled and used correctly. The historical information embraced by the author/illustrator included is striking.

Jeanette Winter has shown sufficient background knowledge to create accurate portrayals of the cultural group, as the author/illustrator has been a renowned picture book creator that conducted related research in her career on various cultures. She is an acclaimed author/illustrator of many highly regarded picture books, including The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq; Mama: A True Story in Which a Baby Hippo Loses His Mama During a Tsunami, but Finds a New Home, and a New Mama; Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa; Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan; Henri’s Scissors, Mr. Cornell’s Dream Boxes, and most recently, Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan. In Biblioburro, Winter lightly touches on the internal conflict between the paramilitaries and the guerrilla groups that escalates and recedes constantly within the country of Colombia. The disruption in political stability and the problematic drug trade further worsen the state of the country as well, increasing the threat of violence and repression throughout the country, including rural areas. The protagonist, Luis Humberto Soriano Bohórquez, a former schoolteacher, decided to confront the threat of a degrading education and literacy caused by the state of the country through his donkeys (or burros in Spanish), who bear a mobile library, where people may borrow books from him as long as they could be reached via burro.

As far as Respect, Winter exhibits respect for the cultures she portrays by avoiding the representation of stereotypes in the character’s speech, appearance, and behaviors. She also avoids using a condescending or negative tone in relation to the cultural characteristics of the characters and setting. Minority characters are portrayed as equal in societal worth to majority characters and are not represented in subordinate social positions.

The book Biblioburro contains a universal theme of “Love and Sacrifice,” and “Heroism – Real and Perceived”. He, like a great educator, also helped children with homework and read books to the several villages he passed by during his 10 years of traveling away from his wife. Although the book “Biblioburro,” paints the journey as relatively calm, Luis Bohórquez has been robbed, threatened with violence, had been injured through an accident, and usually had to travel 5-8 hours to get to each village.  However, there should be a purpose for using a particular setting or for representing characters of a particular cultural background. In order to assess the purpose of the usage of this culture, I considered if the cultural setting adds to the work and if it seemed superfluous. I concluded that Luis Bohórquez’s is relatable for many countries around the world. The work would succeed equally well if is used in a different cultural setting or with characters from a different culture.

In terms of Quality: Multicultural literature must meet the general quality standards applied to all other literature, such as well-developed plots, settings, and characters for texts, and the distinctive use of composition, color, and perspective for illustrations. To assess quality, I consider that the work is valid and supported by true life events and the dialogue sounds natural; nothing forced. Biblioburro; A True Story from Colombia is an item of high quality overall, independent of its multicultural characteristics.

In this discussion, I have spotlighted yet more high-quality multicultural literature in the textbook Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journeys Anthologies and a dual language multicultural book assessed by five major characteristics: accuracy, expertise, respect, purpose, and quality.

Multicultural Book 2  – Lee & Low Multicultural Children’s Book Publisher – Bippity Bop Barbershop by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley Illustrated by E.B. Lewis

In an effort to find high quality multicultural literature and evaluate my textbook materials, I used Lee & Low Multicultural Children’s Book Publisher which we use in addition to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journey anthologies. I searched for five major characteristics: accuracy, expertise, respect, purpose, and quality. These five characteristics serve as excellent evaluation criteria for the multicultural book Bippity Bop Barbershop by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley Illustrated by E.B. Lewis.

Throughout the book, accuracy can be found in all cultural aspects such as a detailed depiction of a barbershop environment and the use of shears and clippers, large mirrors and the look of actual furniture, etc. They are portrayed vividly. Realistically illustrated, E.B. Lewis captures African American life in an honorable way. Inside the barbershop, two men are playing checkers and a group of men are watching a basketball game. Sounds of clippers and scissors are heard. Furthermore, diversity exists among the members of the culturally portrayed. For example, slightly different facial features of each member is evident. Groups of people have distinct individual types of hair to the applause of the illustrator. For example dreadlocks, curly afro, and baldness are also shown. In terms of historic content, everything depicted is correct, true and realistic with sprinkles of other cultures of people as well.

As far as expertise, creators of multicultural literature have more than sufficient background knowledge to create accurate portrayals of a cultural group. According to any author/illustrator notes or biographical information, the author and/or illustrator are more than qualified to write or illustrate material relating to the culture(s) portrayed.  The author, Natasha Anastasia Tarpley and E.B. Lewis who are of African American descent have collaborated on several books regarding African-American children realizing their self-worth and their life’s experience. “I Love My Hair”, a best seller, as well as other acclaimed titles: Girl in the Mirror, Destiny’s Gift, Joe Joe’s First Flight, The Prince and the Frog; Princess Tiana and the Royal Ball. She is the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. E.B. Lewis is the illustrator of two Corretta Scott King Honor Books, including The Bat Boy and His Violin by Gavin Curtis and Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman by Nikki Grimes. The author and/or illustrator conducted related research. They not only lived among the groups of people represented in the work but are African America as well.

By way of respect, these creators of multicultural literature exhibit respect for the cultures they portray. As I assessed respect, I considered questions such as: Do the author and/or illustrator avoid the representation of stereotypes in the characters’ speech, appearance, and behaviors? They do. The characters’ speech, appearance and behaviors are not exaggerated nor disrespectful. They illustrate various life-styles and hairstyles of African American men. So that, this shows that the author and/or illustrator avoid using a condescending or negative tone in relation to cultural characteristics of the characters and setting. Yes; in no way is there any demeaning descriptions or stereotypes. Furthermore, the tone is not at all condescending but reflect the loving relationship between father and son and his budding relationship with his barber. Like most little boys, he is afraid of the sharp scissors, the buzzing razor, and the prospect of picking a new hairstyle. But with the support of his dad, the barber, and the other men in the barbershop, Miles bravely sits through his first haircut. In this companion book to the bestselling I Love My Hair, a young boy, Miles, has made his first trip to the barbershop with his father.  Written in a reassuring tone with a jazzy beat and illustrated with graceful, realistic watercolors, this book captures an important rite of passage for boys and celebrates African-American identity. It is very happy and optimistic as well as realistic. The minority characters are portrayed as equal in societal worth to majority characters and are not represented in subordinate social positions. There is no representation nor does it reflect a legitimate reason for this representation, or is it due to cultural biases of the author/illustrator.  

In terms of the quality of purpose: Although good literature contains universal themes, there is a purpose for using a particular setting or for representing characters of a particular cultural background. To assess purpose, I considered questions such as: Does the cultural setting add to the work, or does it seem superfluous? This particular setting for representing characters of a particular cultural background is helpful in describing African American culture and it invites other readers to see universal life experiences in a different light. In fact, the work would succeed equally well if it used a different cultural setting (or characters from a different culture). This multicultural literature share meets the general quality standards applied to all other literature, such as well-developed plots, settings, and characters for texts, and the distinctive use of composition, color, and perspective for illustrations. As I assess the quality, I considered whether or not the work rings true to me as well as whether or not dialogue sounded natural and not forced.  Overall, this is a high-quality item independent of its multicultural characteristics. Its depiction of ordinary life events to portray a little boys’ experience on his first trip to the barbershop is done beautifully by way of prose as well as paint. The artwork, in my opinion, is in some ways similar to Norman Rockwell’s style and thematic paintings of everyday life.

In this discussion, I have found another high-quality multicultural literature resource in Lee and Low publishers and have assessed five major characteristics: accuracy, expertise, respect, purpose, and quality in one of their many multicultural books.

The Cognitive Dimension: Lee & Low Multicultural Children’s Book Publisher – Bippity Bop Barbershop by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley Illustrated by E.B. Lewis via Music Education.

The Knowledge Dimension Remember Understand Apply Analyze Evaluate Create
Facts Describe

Your first haircut
Describe: Jazz music

Repeat: steady beat pattern with Ta (SLOW).

Identify quarter rest, Ti and Ta rhythm patterns

Recognize sounds for p and b

Distinguish: differences between Ta’s and Ti’s
Distinguish between sounds for p and b.
Key vocabulary:

Barbershop

Bippity Bop

Jazz Chants with p and b.
Interpret the book:

Bippity Bop Barber Shop

Outline

Rhythm patterns

Rank Jazz Chant for Bippity Bop Barbershop Categorize

Different genres by listening

Concepts Music Concepts:

Dynamics

Melody.

Form.

Timbre.

Harmony.

Texture.

Kindergarten MU:Cr1.1.K

a. With guidance, explore and experience music concepts (such as beat and melodic contour).

TESOL

  • Phonology
  • Morphology
  • Syntax
  • Semantics
  • Pragmatics

Standard 1a-2 Language as a System

Explain how plosives “p” and “b” are produced with the mouth. Show Jazz Chant:

“Bippity Bop Barbershop!” (2x)
“Where do you go when your hair is long?”
“Cut your hair!”

Contrast

“P” and “b” sounds

Criticize

Whether or not they are on a steady beat

Modify by adding Orff instrument support
Processes Outline a sentence containing p and b sounds Estimate Produce Sounds Produce

Jazz Chant

Defend Design
Procedures Reproduce the sentence containing p and b sounds on a steady beat Give an example of a jazz chant and ask how to write it. Relate Identify

P and B

sounds

Critique Plan to Perform in Black History Month
Principles State the sentence Solve by writing Converts in to chant Solve

Combination of jazz chant and rhythm

Conclude

Which is best for Bippity Bop Barber Shop

Revise

if necessary

Metacognitive Appraise their skills on rhythm and production of sounds. Interpret it with music Interpret the chant Discover

Your composition

Predict your performance Actualize

And perform your jazz chant

 

Author: drcowinj

As an Assistant Professor for TESOL and Bilingual Programs at Touro College, Graduate School of Education Dr. Cowin’s focus is on the Responsibility to Touro Students (Teaching), Responsibility to the Discipline (Scholarship), Responsibility to Touro College and Community (Service). Dr. Cowin strives to inspire students to be creative and to model the love of lifelong learning by inculcating the habits and attitudes that create agile mindsets. 21st-century learning extends well beyond the classroom, and Dr. Cowin incorporates takes full advantage of online learning technologies for L2 language acquisition and current global trends in teaching English as a Second Language She represents high levels of scholarship and participates fully in the larger world of TESOL academic discipline. Ongoing research, expressed in scholarly contributions to the advancement of knowledge is demonstrated through publication, presentation and participation in academic conferences, articles in Education Update, blogging and other scholarly activities, including public performances or exhibitions at conferences and workshops such as the Plekhanov University of Economics keynote address in 2018. Of special interest to her are The Blockchain of Things and its implications for Higher Education, Current Global Trends in Teaching English; Developing Materials and Resources in Teaching English – Methodology; E-learning & Micro-Methodology in Teaching English; and E-Resources Discovery and Analysis.

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