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Cultural authenticity portrayed in picture books: A systematic approach toward diversity education for children. Eun-Young Yoo eunyoung@nccu.edu Pauletta Bracy pbracy@nccu.edu North Carolina Central University. Problem Statement.

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Cultural authenticity portrayed in picture books: A systematic approach toward diversity education for children

Eun-Young Yoo

eunyoung@nccu.edu

Pauletta Bracy

pbracy@nccu.edu

North Carolina Central University

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

problem statement
Problem Statement
  • Examines the issue of cultural authenticity reflected in multicultural picture books in order to provide a new direction for diversity education for children.
  • Conducts a systematic and empirical analysis of picture books that represent four different ethnic groups including African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic- Americans and Native-Americans.
  • Proposes cultural authenticity in multicultural picture books as a pedagogical construct.

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

objectives
Objectives
  • To what extent do children’s picture books depict cultural authenticity via literary content and illustrations?
  • What are the differences and similarities of cultural authenticity, non-stereotyping, and cultural accuracy among ethnic groups?
  • Why does cultural authenticity matter? What are the implications of cultural authenticity analysis for librarians and educators?

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

method
Method
  • Selection of Books
  • Coders
  • Coding Scheme & Content Analysis

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

selection of books
Selection of Books
  • 15 picture books for each ethnic group
    • African American
    • Asian American
    • Hispanic American
    • Native American
  • Total: 60 picture books selected
  • All published after 2000
  • All available from local public or academic libraries

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

selection of books cont
Selection of Books (cont.)
  • Selection tools
    • NoveList
      • An electronic readers’ advisory resource for fiction for children and teens
      • A division of EBSCO host
      • Search: subject search, limit publication year, sort by popularity
    • CCBC (Cooperative Children’s Book Center) Choices, 2000-2008
    • Understanding diversity through novels and picture books (Knowles & Smith, 2007)

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

african american list
African-American List

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

asian american list
Asian-American List

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

hispanic american list
Hispanic-American List

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

native american list
Native-American List

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

coders selection criteria
Coders : Selection Criteria
  • Two coders per ethnic group
    • Intercoder reliability
  • Insiders of the culture
    • Assessing cultural authenticity
  • Gender
  • Professions
    • Librarians
    • LIS students/graduates

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

data collection scope of coding
Data Collection : Scope of Coding
  • Major character
    • Name, demographics (gender, age), social roles (occupation, relationship with other characters)
  • Minor character
    • Name, demographics (gender, age), social roles (occupation, relationship with other characters)
  • Setting
    • Context, location, environment, place, etc.
  • Stereotypical features
    • Whether stereotypical features are depicted in terms of text & illustration; if yes, to what extent
  • Cultural authenticity
    • To what extent the book portrays cultural authenticity of the ethnic group in terms of text & illustration

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

definition stereotype
Definition : Stereotype
  • A stereotype is a preconceived idea that attributes certain characteristics (in general) to all the members of class or set. The term is often used with a negative connotation when referring to an oversimplified, exaggerated, or demeaning assumption that a particular individual possesses the characteristics associated with the class due to his or her membership in it. Stereotypes can be used to deny individuals respect or legitimacy based on their membership in that group. (Wikipedia)

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

definition cultural authenticity
Definition : Cultural Authenticity
  • Cultural authenticity is not just accuracy or the avoidance of stereotypes, but involves cultural values, facts, and attitudes that members of the culture as a whole consider worthy of acceptance and belief (Mo, W. & Shen, W., 1997)

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

preliminary findings
Preliminary Findings
  • Profiles of major characters
  • Settings
  • Cultural authenticity
  • Stereotypes, cultural authenticity & cultural accuracy

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

profiles of major characters
Profiles of Major Characters

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

settings
Settings

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

cultural authenticity african american
Cultural Authenticity : African American
  • Coders agree that most books depict the culture authentically although some are overlapping or conflicting with negative stereotypical features of the culture
  • Positive aspects:
    • Importance of family & tradition
    • Perseverance/ resilience
    • Appearance in illustrations
  • Negative aspects:
    • Singe family home
    • “none of my business” mentality

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

cultural authenticity asian american
Cultural Authenticity : Asian American
  • Coders agree that majority of the books depicted the culture authentically, even though some cultural details (e.g., cooking process and wedding ceremony) lacked authentic descriptions.
  • Most books tried to portray important parts of Asian Americans’ culture such as inter generation conflicts/gaps, historical/cultural details (i.e, food, Chinese New Year, Chinese wedding), and immigrants’ adaptation process (i.e. languages, food, cultural differences).
  • Adoption stories (3 out of 15)

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

cultural authenticity hispanic american
Cultural Authenticity : Hispanic American
  • Coders agree that majority of the books depicted the culture authentically.
  • Positive aspects:
    • Correct translation of Spanish words
    • Extended family; Family closeness
    • Hard working Hispanics
    • Family-centered business
    • Use of bright colors in illustrations
    • Diverse Hispanic descents
  • Negative aspects:
    • Incorrect translation of Spanish words
    • Single parent home

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

cultural authenticity native american
Cultural Authenticity : Native American
  • Coders agree that majority of the books depicted the culture authentically, but they also mentioned that stories/illustrations were rather contemporary than traditional in order to avoid stereotypical features of the culture.
  • Problems: lack of accuracy in some books (e.g., The frog princess, Solomon’s tree).
  • A few books were too universal, and not depicted Native culture specifically.
  • One of the coders studied whether authors/illustrators were Natives. If not, how they got to create the work of the culture.

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

stereotypes cultural authenticity and cultural accuracy
Stereotypes, Cultural Authenticity and Cultural Accuracy

Cultural authenticity = Non stereotyping (?)

Cultural authenticity = Cultural accuracy (?)

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

stereotypes cultural authenticity and cultural accuracy23
Stereotypes, Cultural Authenticity and Cultural Accuracy
  • Presence of some types stereotypical features via text and images in books of all groups.
  • Presence of inaccuracy in some historic stories and cultural issues in Asian Americans and Native Americans.
  • Need to examine how presence of stereotypical features and inaccuracy affect the overall cultural authenticity of the story.

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

excerpts from coding visiting day african american
Excerpts from coding: Visiting Day (African American)
  • Stereotypical features: Criminal, Dysfunctional family, Poor

“The main character’s father is in prison…”

  • Cultural authenticity:

“Family Loyalty: I do not agree that this is a stereotypical attribute within African American culture. The significance of family and the unspoken belief that no matter what happens the family must remain together and strong are elements that appear in this story that are authentic to African American culture.”

  • Additional comments:

“Although Visiting Day revolves around a story of a father who is incarcerated and his daughter and grandma who visit him regularly, I do not feel that the story attempts to portray all African Americans as criminals.”

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

excerpts from coding bad river boys a meeting native american
Excerpts from coding: Bad River Boys: A Meeting… (Native American)
  • Stereotypical features: Wearing feathers, headless with arms, etc. Indian style broken English

“The illustrations are historical, depicting the people wearing what is now considered stereotypical clothes and living in tee-pees.”

  • Cultural authenticity:

“The text seems to be based on the journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Though the story is supposed to show the incident through the eyes the Indian boys, the text is a mixture of “Indian talk” (short sentences), contemporary American talk, and facts pulled from the journals of the expedition. There is probably very little, if not nothing, to dispute about the authenticity of this event.” “Illustrations: Again, this is a historical story and portrays this Plains tribe wearing clothing of the era.”

  • Additional comments:

“The author is a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and grew up on their reservation. The illustrator is not Native American but enjoys doing extensive research on his subjects (according to a note on the book jacket).”

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09

future plan
Future Plan
  • Further analyses on cultural authenticity in multicultural picture books beyond nonstereotypes or cultural accuracy.
  • Information on to what extent the multicultural picture books that have widely been selected and read by librarians, educators and readers depict cultural authenticity of four different ethnic groups.
  • Implications for authors, illustrators, librarians, educators, parents, readers and researchers on multicultural picture books as a pedagogical construct for our rapidly changing diverse education.

Diversity Research Grant. ALA 09