Feminist scholarship has reframed many European fairy tales as carrying the culture's models for young women (Rowe, 1986; Lieberman, 1986).Contemporary educators in the United States sometimes use traditional literature as a window on other cultures, but this practice is seen as problematic (Hearne, 1993); Zipes, 1986).
In line with this concern, some publishers have reissued children's classics such as Hugh Lofting's having altered or removed racist portrayals of Africans.
Interest in accuracy and authenticity led Betsy Hearne (1993) to develop a scale for evaluating source notes in books of traditional literature; the ideal source note is explicit about a story's origin.
Nonfiction, or informational books, have openly didactic purposes: to foster an interest in inquiry and involvement in the world (Mc Elmeel, 1995) or to inform, instruct, and enlighten (Freedman, 1992).
Nonfiction literature is expected to make clear distinctions between fact, theory, and opinion.
For years, researchers, teacher educators, parent educators, and parents have recognized the value of reading to children, and numerous studies document the beneficial effects of reading to preschool children (Scarborough & Dobrich, 1994).
For instance, Wells's (1985) correlational study on the effects of picture book reading found that the frequency of listening to stories between the ages of 1 and 3 years was significantly associated with literacy and oral language skills as measured at age 5 by the children's teachers.Rosenblatt (1995) categorizes readers' involvement in a text along a continuum.At one end is aesthetic reading, in which the person is drawn into the story and participates through identification with characters. At the other end of the continuum is efferent reading, in which the reader is primarily interested in gaining information.In this paper, we will (1) discuss the possibilities, which we conceptualize as positive, and the pitfalls involved in the selection of multicultural literature for use with young children; (2) examine two books featuring Mexican American protagonists to illuminate issues and problems in the images the books present of Mexican Americans; (3) discuss some contemporary ideas about race as a way of looking at the possibilities and pitfalls of choosing multicultural picture books; and (4) invite further dialogue and action by early childhood educators and teacher education programs regarding race, children's literature, and young children.The growing role of children's literature in the lives of young children may be seen in the numbers of books published per year.In their relationships with books, young children may operate all along Rosenblatt's continuum, using books for both enjoyment and learning.Literature is also seen as having several psychosocial uses for young children.This paper discusses the possibilities and the pitfalls involved in the selection of multicultural literature for use with young children, examines two books featuring Mexican American protagonists to illuminate issues and problems in the images the books present of Mexican Americans, discusses some contemporary theories on race as ways of understanding such issues and problems, and considers possible actions for early childhood educators and teacher education programs to take. Fiction, poetry, and nonfiction offer young children a multitude of opportunities to gain information, to become familiar with print, to be entertained, and to experience perspectives other than their own.Children's picture books have an increasingly significant place in U. Picture books that depict the variety of ethnic, racial, and cultural groups within U. society (known generally as multicultural picture books) allow young children opportunities to develop their understanding of others, while affirming children of diverse backgrounds.In a study of picture books reviewed or recommended in (the National Association for the Education of Young Children's practitioner journal), Reese (2001) found a similar increase.During the 9-year period from 1945 to 1954, 37 children's books were recommended, while 904 were recommended between 19.