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Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults Writing About Life Within(Out) Particular Culture

Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults Writing About Life Within(Out) Particular Culture



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Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults: Writing about Life within/out Particular Culture, a research paper
Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults: Writing about Life within/out Particular Culture, a research paper

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Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: kris.bista@gmail.com on Jun 23, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Bista 1Krishna K. BistaDr. M. A. TigheENG 6643April 22, 2008Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults: Writing about Life within/out ParticularCultureABSTRACTThis research paper is about authors of multicultural literature for children and youngadults and their representation in writing. Should it be written by a member of a particular ethicgroup for authentic portrayal of story and message? The response to this question varies inliterary criticism. As stories
matter for young adult readers to understand cultural similaritiesand diversities, it is important to know who the author is and how s/he writers the literature. It isundeniable fact that the literature written by ‘insiders’ give true portrayal of a particular ethnicgroup. On contrary, if the authors are able to perceive the world of the story through their ownexperience, intuition, and research, they can write the literature. Since children’s books that aremulticultural require to reflect culturally specific experiences and universal themes on the basisof skin color, action, dialogue, relationship and culture of any particular group, the authorsshould ask themselves whether they have acquired the specific sense of reality doing a researchbefore they try to write about another culture.
Bista 2Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults: Writing about Life within/out ParticularCulture
 My work, as a novelist, a biographer, and a creator and compiler of stories, has been to portraythe essence of a people who are a parallel culture community in America.
-Virginia Hamilton, Laura Ingalls Wilder Award Acceptance SpeechMulticultural literature is hard to define as it includes literary writing of groups of peoplefrom different races, colors, values and cultures. It is also labeled as literature of minoritycultures. Cai (2002) defines, “Multiculturalism involves diversity and inclusion, but, moreimportantly, it also involves power structure and struggle. Its goal is not just to understand,accept, and appreciate cultural differences, but also to ultimately transform the existing socialorder in order to ensure greater voice and authority to the marginalized cultures and to achievesocial equality and justice among all culture….” (p. 7).
However, multicultural literature foryoung adult readers includes and focuses on the cultures of people from a nonwhite background.In it’s most authentic form it is an area of literature that focuses on the reality of various cultures(Lindgren, 1991 & Rochman, 1993). Who can accurately portrait the realistic pictures of minority cultures in multicultural literature for young adults? Must it be written by a member of a particular ethnic group? Does it make something different if it is written by outsider of thegroup? Regarding the authors of multicultural literature, there is a controversial debate whetheris should be written by a member of ethnic group or by the outsider. Some believe that authors of the particular ethnic or cultural group depict details of ethnic group, its cultural traditions, and itspeople as the most authentic and qualitative literatures for young adults while others oppose theview. However, if authors come from other social and cultural groups, they must have eithersufficient knowledge or wide range of research to create accurate portrayals of a cultural group.
Bista 3Literary creation depends on imagination and experience of authors rather than whetherthe author comes from a particular group or not. The realities reflect in multicultural literatureare culturally specific realities experience by ethnic groups (Cai, 2002). Ethnic literature is theone which has unique cultural experiences of an ethnic group. For instance, Asian Americanliterature is literature that reflects the experiences of Asian American people; African Americanreflects the experience of African American people. Ethnic literature is therefore culturallyspecific. To create authenticity in multicultural literature of young adults, culture and culturalvalues of ethnic groups becomes the major criteria. “Departing from the reality of ethnicculture,” as Cai (2002) puts it, “leads to nothing but misinterpretation or distortion of reality inmulticultural literature” (p. 38). For this the writer needs to reflect the cultural perspectives of thepeople whom he or she is writing about, and makes readers from the inside group believe that heor she “knows what’s going on” (Bishop, 1992).Several books on ethnic literature are banded for many years or they are highly censoredin the media owing to misrepresentation of culture. Lack of imagination not only leads tomisrepresentation of culture but also create worse situations. It develops biasness in society,violets the integrity of a culture and defeats the purpose of multicultural literature. And thisnotion has been leading us into a debate: who can write multicultural literature for childrenauthentically, the insider or the outsider? Of course none of them can write if they do not haveimagination and experience of producing cultural authenticity. As all kind of literatures havevarious ways of evaluation for literary excellence, some critics opine that multicultural literatureshould not demands for cultural accuracy and authenticity in writing (Taxel,1986). Cai (2002)says that those who believe only insiders can write valid literature about ethnic experience hold adeterminist view of the relationship between the author’s ethnicity and creation of authentic

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