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Selecting Age Appropriate Multicultural Books: Mixed Asian Youth Literature.

Updated on November 3, 2016

We Need Diverse Books Campaign.

Diversity In Books.

Stories and books help people make sense of the world.

According to the diversity book campaign - Despite the fast growing multicultural populations around the globe, there is still insufficient representation of ethnic and mixed minorities in youth literature. Consider that according to census figures, the Asian American population is projected to more than double from 15.9 million in 2012 to 34.4 million in 2060, This trend is similar in multicultural countries around the globe such as Canada, UK, Australia, new Zealand - Yet children s book that reflect this demographic is still insufficient.

Children need to see their ethnic identity reflected in the media and books in order to feel that they are acknowledged and have a sense of belonging.

Factors To Consider When Selecting Multicultural Books.

Much of our values and beliefs are relayed through sources which we are not always consciously aware as to their messages as they are not always obvious.

Limited stereotypes that portray others in a certain way especially when reflected through the mass media can create a mass consciousness or belief about others that we often don't recognize it's roots or source.This can create disharmony and alienation within communities.

We live in a world today that requires co-operation, interdependence and respect for our fellow man. Teaching these values requires an awareness of reading material that is inclusive and respectful of diversity.

A few factors to keep in mind when choosing culturally responsive books:

Consider the Context:

What is the authors background and what does the book wish to teach.Does it impart good values?

Consider The Illustrations:

The saying "A picture says a thousand words" is indeed applicable to reading material. A visual image can make a story come alive and represent our feelings about something. For instance I am always reminded of Lady Di's compassion with the one image of her holding a child from a wore torn region.

Consider whether the illustrations depict the characters accurately and do not contain images with limiting or potentially offensive stereotypes. .

Consider The Message.

Is the message one that is inclusive? Does it improve the self esteem of all children? and does it also the positive aspects of different minorities?

Consider The Words.

Are there words that might be considered offensive or problematic? Are dialects used respectful and mindfully?

Tips in Selecting Age Appropriate Books.

It is always a good idea to choose something that a child would like. Here are a few broad guidelines and suggestions:

  • In general consider the following factors:
  • The author's expertise and credibility.
  • Does the text keep your child’s interest by being clear and simple?
  • Do illustrations support the text?
  • Ask the librarian or bookstore their opinion about a book that you may like.
  • Is the book age and stage appropriate?

The Five finger Rule Of Thumb.

The five finger rule can be used to determine whether a book is stage appropriate for your child.

Choose a page in a chapter and ask your child to read it. Put down one finger each time he or she struggles with a word. If they reach the end of the page before you get to five fingers, the book is written at a comfortable level for independent reading

Guidelines To Consider When Selecting Multicultural Age Appropriate Books.
Guidelines To Consider When Selecting Multicultural Age Appropriate Books. | Source

Book Selection Tips: Babies & Toddlers.

Preschool: Babies and Toddlers

Babies and toddlers develop through sensory stimulation. As a baby grows,both their bigger and finer muscles are developed through a variety of different stimulation. Reading is a wonderful way to engage with a child as it develops them on many different levels besides education.

It increases bonding, stimulates visual, auditory and brain development. Reading expands the child's world enabling him/her to imagine and create their own stories and interpretations.

It is also an essential in developing school readiness skills.

When selecting books for babies and toddlers consider these guidelines.

  • Select books with bright colored pictures and simple objects.
  • They like listening to slightly complex texts with good rhythm and effective word repetition.
  • Books depicting familiar objects and experiences are enjoyable to children in this age group.
  • Babies and toddlers respond well to sound - Choose books with simple texts and harmonic rhythm.
  • Wordless books stimulate visual and mental development.
  • Board and cloth books are durable with easy to turn pages and they also promote motor development.

Multicultural Children Books: Mixed Asian Youth Literature. Ages 5-8. Recommendations on Karla Lucht's. website ":Hapa Characters In Youth Literature"
Multicultural Children Books: Mixed Asian Youth Literature. Ages 5-8. Recommendations on Karla Lucht's. website ":Hapa Characters In Youth Literature" | Source

Book Selection tips: Early School Years: (Ages 5-8).

As a child grows and begins pre or junior school, learning becomes more structured with more emphasis placed on word, grammar and sentence construction. Stories with themes are common and often repeated.

Children also begin to compare and differentiate themselves with their peers. It is therefore advisable to include reading material that affirms your child's sense of identity and individuality. When Children are acknowledged through stories that reflect their identity and circumstances they experience a greater sense of self assurance and are more well adjusted.

Consider these guidelines when selecting books for children between five and eight.

  • Select picture books with strong themes that promote good values and character development.
  • When selecting a book for independent reading, choose a book with a straightforward story and familiar words. Look out for books labelled 'Easy Readers'
  • Non-fiction books for young children provide help with solving problems, such as starting school, bullying, a new sibling, divorce, death in the family, Consider whether the content is handled in an exciting and interesting way.
  • Third-graders can read stories with a mix of word complexity. Include both familiar and more challenging words in order to build vocabulary

Mixed Asian Recommended Books Age 5-8

A Visit to Amy-Claire. By Mills, Claudia 1992.

Dream Newsome, Jill 2001.

I am a Ballerina. by Coulman, Valerie (Grades K-2).

Maxwell's Mountain by Becker, Shari ( Grades 1-4).

The Dancer/La Bailarina/[Dansa] by Burstein, Fred.(Grades Prek-1).

Two Mrs. Gibsons by Igus, Toyome. 1997.

A Wild Cowboy Smith, Dana Kessimakis.(Grades Pre K-1).

Cinnamon, Mint and Mothballs:by Tiller, Ruth 1993.

Cooper's Shin, Sun Yung 2004.

Grandfather Counts by Cheng, Andrea (Grades 1-5).

I Know it's Autumn by Spinelli, Eileen (Grades PreK-3).

How My Parents Learned to Eat by Friedman, Ina R.1984.

Shanghai Messenger by Lee & Low Books, (Grades 3-7).

Selecting Books: Nine and upwards.

As children become more literate, they develop distinctive preferences in reading material. Studies on reading habits among the youth indicate that children tend to rely increasingly on information relayed through technology platforms and social media.

As children grow parental influence tends to decrease, whilst that of peers and feedback from internet sources increase. a parent is able to have greater influence by being in a more supportive role acting as a guide and facilitator.

Consider these guidelines when advising older children on appropriate reading material.

  • Consider the child's personality traits and personal preferences when choosing a book.
  • Make a selection with the child in mind; choose an informational book or a novel in an area of specific interest.
  • Discuss the content of the book with your child and ask for his/her opinions. How do they relate to its content and themes. How would they change or react in a similar situation?

Multicultural Youth Literature: Mixed Asian - Age 9+. Some Titles mentioned on Karla Lucht ;s website: Hapa Characters In Youth Literature.
Multicultural Youth Literature: Mixed Asian - Age 9+. Some Titles mentioned on Karla Lucht ;s website: Hapa Characters In Youth Literature. | Source

List of Books Hapa Youth Literature - 9+

The following Titles are from Karla Lucht's List of Hapa characters in Youth Literature.

The China Baillie, Alan Puffin, 1992. (Grades 10+).

Molly's Fire by. Carey, Janet Lee Antheneum 2000. (Grades 4-8).

Whale Talk by Crutcher, Chris (2001).

Begging for Flake, Sharon 2003. (Grades 7-12).

Song of the Buffalo Boy by Garland, Sherry 1994.(Grades 7-11).

Nothing but the Truth (and a Few White Lies) by Headley, Justina Chen Little, Brown, 2006.

Kim/Kimi. by Puffin Books, Irwin, Hadley 1988. (Grades 7-12).

Half and Half by Namioka, Lensey, 2004. (Grades 4-6).

Talent Night by Okimoto, Jean Davies, 1995. ( Grades 7-10).

The Likes of Me by Platt, Randall Beth, 2000. (Grades 7-12).

First Came the Owl by Richardson, Judith Benet, 1996. (Grades 4-6).

(sometimes Wong). by Rosten, Carrie. Chloe Lieberman, 2005. (Grades 7-10).

Red Rider's Hood by Schusterman, Neal 2005.( Grades 6-9).

Black Mirror by Werlin, Nancy. Collins, 2003. (Grades 7+).

Angelfish by Yep, Laurence. 2001(Grades 5-8).

Thief of Hearts. HarperCollins, 1995. (Grades 5-8)


I quote Karla Lucht an expert in the study and teaching of multiculturalism in youth literature who is herself of mixed race.

“There’s a gap in this kind of research with lots of underrepresented groups, but with mixed-race people especially. Everyone deserves to see themselves represented in a book . . . and a good book at that.”

Karla Luch't Research On Mixed Asian Literature.


Bogel, G. (2011). Choosing the Right Book : Factors that Affect Children ’ s Reading. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 6(June 2005), 74–77.

Conley, E. (2011). Representation of Race in Children’s Picture Books And How Students Resond to Them, (August).

Harrison, B. L. (2000). E-books and the future of reading. IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, 20(3), 32–39.

(Harrison, 2000)(Bogel, 2011)(Conley, 2011)(Bogel, 2011)

Hapa Youth Literature-Home (Hapa Youth Literature-Home)

(Selecting and Using Culturally Responsive Books.) (on)


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