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Juvenile / Children's Literature: Multicultural & Diversity

Guide to finding and using Juvenile Literature in the USC Upstate collection

Diversity & Multiculturalism

Diversity is defined as the differences between people. Diversity can be real or perceived differences between people. These differences include but are not limited to race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and socioeconomic status. In a diverse world, people acknowledgethe differences that exist among individuals.

Multiculturalism is more complex than simply noticing the diversity or differences that exist in society. Multiculturalism focuses on being inclusiveness, understanding, respecting, and acknowledging unequal power in society. Furthermore, people are aware of the advantages or disadvantages of being a particular, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or socioeconomic status is society. In a multicultural world, people accept and embrace the differences of others into their lives.

"What's the Difference Between a Diverse and a Multicultural World?" Hybrid parenting. Hybrid Parenting, 15 Aug. 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.

"Multiculturalism" is defined by ALA as the co-existence of diverse cultures, where culture includes racial, religious, or cultural groups and is manifested in customary behaviors, cultural assumptions and values, patterns of thinking, and communicative styles. Within the umbrella term of multiculturalism there are 4 groups including National Minorities (ie. peoples from a specific country), Immigrants (ie. peoples new to the country), Refugees (persons seeking asylum) and Migrant workers (ie. peoples passing through for work).  Current Multiculturalism can include peoples of various sexual orientation too tho it often is a thin line between that and Diversity. The main concept is to value peoples of every race, creed and color.

Multicultural can be considered the acceptance of differing cultural traditions, promoting distinctiveness of each culture. Multiculturalism is where multiple cultural traditions are not only accepted but understood and included in daily life.  Multicultural literature includes characters, settings or actions that are easily recognized as being specific to a culture. I have heard Multicultural books referred to as Mirror & Window books, referring to books that offer a look through a "window" into a different culture from the reader OR a "mirror" into a child's own culture. Diversity, on the other hand, often refers to the variety of peoples/cultures within the same book (I like to think of this as the Sesame Street effect, people from multiple cultures, religions, sexual orientations, physical abilities, etc. all living together and co-existing in peace) .