How can picture books in the classroom impact multicultural education?

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Picture books can have an impact on multicultural education because they can send messages about people of different cultures.  When they do, they can affect what children learn even if the teacher does not intend to be sending any messages about such people.

In the past, many picture books only featured pictures of white children.  This would have a very clear impact on multicultural education.  If children see only pictures of white children, they will internalize the idea that “normal” children are white.  They will come to think that white is natural and good and that children of other races are somehow not as worthy of being put in picture books.  It would also be possible to send a similar message if children of color are always portrayed as the subordinates in books.  If the main characters are always white and the children of color are always just the “sidekicks,” it can once again send the message that white people are superior.

In these ways, picture books can send messages that have an impact on what children learn with regard to multicultural education.

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