Culturally Diverse Books Selected by SLJ’s Review Editors | School Library Journal: In her groundbreaking Shadow and Substance: Afro-American Experience in Contemporary Children’s Literature (NCTE, 1982), Rudine Sims Bishop first articulated a concept of multicultural literature that would become the framework by which generations of librarians and educators would think about books for children. She emphasized the critical importance of multicultural literature for children and used the metaphor of “windows and mirrors” to explain the ways in which children experience other cultures and see their own culture reflected and validated through the books they read. She later went on to develop several categories of multicultural literature: “culturally specific,” “generically American,” and “culturally neutral.”
Recent conversations on blogs, listservs, and other social media—as well as alarming new statistics on the state of multicultural literature for children—have underscored the continuing need for books that reflect the growing diversity of an increasingly global society. The debate over which kinds of multicultural literature are best or most needed has also been reignited.