Multicultural Literature for Children


Multicultural Literature for Children

At a Glance:

A Concise Resource for Teachers of

Grades K-5


Brittany Turner

California State University Monterey Bay

Table of Contents

Project Objective ………………………………………………………………………………….3

Lesson plans

Harvesting Hope by Kathleen Krull………………………………………………………4

Harvesting Hope lesson worksheet (front and back)……………………………..6

Annotated list of recommended multicultural literature for children……………………………..9

Project Objective:

As the world becomes more globalized, and the populations more diverse, cross cultural competency is becoming a much more important and necessary aspect of life. The diversity of California symbolizes the continuously changing demographics of American culture. This is evident in schools across the state. Although bridging cultural divides may seem to be an unconquerable task, approaching the feat may be eased through multicultural literature.

I have created this concise resource for teachers who are interested in educating their students about cultures represented in California and around the world. In classrooms, one may find a varying ethnic representation. This resource of recommended books, lessons, and journaling questions Although these books may be enjoyed by people of all ages and students of all grade levels, the lessons have been designed to honor the English-Language Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools.

Characteristics of a Leader

Harvesting Hope


Krull, Kathleen. (2003). Harvesting Hope: the story of Cesar Chavez. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Books. / Suggested Grade Level:
Summary of Book:
Harvesting Hope tells the story of Cesar Chavez and the events which led to his success as a social action leader. Accompanied by vibrant illustrations, the book describes Chavez’s upbringing and efforts to bring people together to fight for equality.
Lesson Overview:
Students will reflect on Cesar Chavez as a social activist and work with their insights to create a written piece that exemplifies their literary understanding.
Standards Met:
3.0 Literary Response and Analysis
3.3 Use knowledge of the situation and setting of a characters traits and motivations to determine the causes for that character’s actions
3.5 Define figurative language and identify its use in literary works
1.0 Writing Strategies
2.0 Writing Applications
2.1 Write narratives
a. relate ideas, observations, or recollections of an event or experience
b. provide a context to enable the reader to imagine the world of the event or experience
c. use concrete sensory details
d. provide insight into why the selected event or experience is memorable
Time / Procedures / Materials/Text/
Minutes / Does anyone know what an activist is? Write on the board “characteristics of a leader”. Students will be asked to write about these characteristics on the handout.
Minutes / Ask students to share their knowledge of Cesar Chavez.
Review the symbol of United Farm Workers of America (UFW), a bold black eagle, the scared bird of the Aztec Indians. Ask students to share what they believe the eagle stands for and why this symbol was chosen to represent the UFW.
Minutes / Read book to the class / Harvesting Hope by Kathleen Krull
Minutes / While you pass out the handouts, ask students to think about themselves as leaders. How would they attempt to change something they felt strongly about? Cesar Chavez formed the UFW, what would you do?
Students complete handouts / Harvesting Hope handout
Minutes / Review students’ responses to the questions by encouraging them to share with the class.
Conclude lesson


Characteristics of a Leader

Harvesting Hope

Cesar Chavez worked with his family in farm fields of California. He talked to the people he worked with and heard their stories about hardships they have experienced. He reflected on their experiences and asked if they would follow him in a non-violent protest for better working environments.

Answer the following questions in complete sentences. We will share our responses at the end of the lesson.

1. Who was Cesar Chavez and what is the United Farm Workers of America (UFW)?

2. What does the term “Harvesting Hope” mean to you? How could someone harvest hope?

3. Look at the words the class thought of on the board that describe the characteristics of a leader. Which descriptive words do you think are most important for a leader and why?

Write a paragraph (at least 4 sentences) about a time when you had to stand up for something you felt strongly about. Describe how you felt and what you remember. When was this memory? Where did this take place? How did you feel? Were you scared, were you proud? Why was this experience so memorable?

When you are done, draw a picture of the symbol you would choose to represent your cause.

Recommended Books

Adoff, Arnold. (1973). Black is Brown is Tan. New York: Harper & Row Publishers.

Through beautiful water color images and sweet color comparisons, Black is Brown is Tan illustrates several typical enjoyable family activities. This book can serve as a facile tool to introduce the prevalence of mixed race families to younger children. It is written in an elementary narrative that allows readers to empathize with children who might identify with the story.

Akai, Kimiko. (1990). Sachiko Means Happiness. San Francisco: Children’s Book Press.

Sachiko is a young girl beginning to understand how to deal with her grandmother’s deteriorating health. To help relieve her mother with household duties, Sachiko assumes the responsibility of watching after her grandmother. Although it is at first difficult for Sachiko to comprehend the effects of her grandmother’s Alzheimers, the two work to create a unique bond.

Jaffe, Nina. (1996). The Golden Flower. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Jaffe, Nina. (1995). Older Brother, Younger Brother: A Korean Folktale. New York: Penguin Group.

This Korean folktale provides illustrations of the beautiful rural areas of Korea. As a brother is shunned from his family and forced to find somewhere else to live, he finds hope in a small injured swallow. Although his luck is down, the brother tends for the swallow who in turn cares for him and his family. Older Brother, Younger Brother tells the story of a family torn apart and brought back together again by acts of kindness and generosity.

Krull, Kathleen. (2003). Harvesting Hope: the story of Cesar Chavez.Orlando, FL: Harcourt Books.

Harvesting Hope tells the story of Cesar Chavez and the events which led to his success as a social action leader. Accompanied by vibrant illustrations, the book describes Chavez’s upbringing and efforts to bring people together to fight for equality.

Lacapa, Kathleen, & Lacapa, Michael. (1994). Less Than Half, More Than Whole. Flagstaff, Arizona: Northland Publishing Company

Less Than Half, More Than Whole introduces a boy named Tony who, for the first time, notices that his skin color is not the same as that of his friends. After his peers point out the difference in his skin color, young Tony begins to question his appearance. With the help of his family members, Tony begins to understand that everyone is unique in their own special way. Less Than Half is illustrated with intricate patterns seen in the Apache, Hopi, and Mohawk tribes. The vibrant colors of the tribal patterns attract the attention of readers while emphasizing the meaning of color throughout the book.

Lobel, Arnold. (1982). Ming Lo Moves the Mountain. New York: Greenwillow Books.

Ming Lo Moves the Mountain tells a story of a couple who lived in a small house at the bottom of a mountain. Although they loved their house, they were troubled by the neighboring mountain. The couple was burdened by pestering falling debris which landed on their home and were in desperate need for a solution to help save their house. After several visits to a wise man in their town, they find a way to work together and with the town to move away from their problem.

Michelson, Richard.(2006). Across the Alley. New York: Penguin Group

Across the Alley gently touches on racial tensions seen in the United States. In fear of social pressures, two young neighbor boys are forced to hide their friendship. At first, the boys only feel comfortable playing together after the day is through and they are in the comfort of night in their homes. Their friendship develops as they learn from each other from across the alleyway which divides their apartment buildings. The boys’ friendship is discovered, and to their surprise, accepted by their families.

Mora, Pat. (2009). Book Fiesta!: Celebrate Children’s Day/ Book Day/ Celebremos El Dia de los Ninos/El Dia por los Libros.New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

Book Fiesta! Celebrates books as powerful and colorful tools which are used by children to bring together cultures. This is a fun book for beginning readers. The English text is guided by Spanish translations.

Perez, L. King. (2002). First Day in Grapes. New York: Lee & Low Books Inc.

Pinkney, Andrea Davis. (1993). Alvin Ailey. New York: Hyperion Books.

The events that shape Alvin Ailey’s life are told chronologically through a description of his Ailey’s journey in becoming a professional dancer. This story gives readers a historical look at life for African-Americans living in the United States in the early 20th century. It is easy to become excited alongside Alvin as he sees black dancers for the first time and begins to wonder if he could one day be as successful as them. Inspired by the Rumba, Bahiana, and Jive, Alvin and his new friend begin to practice their new fascination with dance

Rattigan, Jama Jim. (1993). Dumpling Soup. Canada: Little, Brown, & Company.

Marisa is excited when her grandmother tells her she is finally old enough to help her family make the traditional dumplings for their traditional Korean New Year celebration in Hawaii. Readers get a fun look into a holiday festivity with Marisa’s ethnically diverse family who her grandmother describes as “chop suey” or “all mixed up”. Dumpling Soup is brightly illustrated and provides a helpful glossary with words in English, Hawaiian, Japanese, and Korean.

Rodríguez, Luis J. (1998). América is Her Name.Hong Kong: Paramount Printing.

America Solíz is a quiet student living in a barrio of Chicago. She is left behind in class as she daydreams of easier times in her home of Oaxaca, Mexico. Although she is silenced at school by pressures of a dominant culture, an inspirational Spanish speaking Poet from Puerto Rico visits her class and quickly raises hope for students. America discovers her talent for writing and shares it with her family as a new tool for communication and praise.

Stanek, Muriel.(1989). I Speak English For My Mom. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman & Co.

Lupe narrates the struggles she faces as a mediator between her Spanish speaking mother and a predominately English speaking community. I Speak English For My Mom offers a child’s perspective of the relevant issue of the acceptance of bilingualism today.

Soto, Gary. (1993). Too Many Tamales. New York: Putman’s Sons.

The holiday spirit is well and present at Maria’s family’s Christmas party. Distracted by kneading masa for the tamales, Maria panics when she thinks she has lost her mother’s wedding band. In an attempt to rescue the ring, Maria orchestrates her eager cousins in a silly plan to spare her mother.

Ringgold, Faith. (1999). The Invisible Princess. New York: Crown Publishers.

Weatherford, Carole Boston. (2005). Freedom on the Menu: the Greensboro sit-ins. New York: Dial Books.