Laurence Yep and the Making of Diversity in Children's Literature

January 10-March 28, 2005
Peter J. Shields Library, Lobby
Assembled by Diana King and David Michalski

This exhibit explores the multicultural movement in children's literature, focusing on the work of award winning author Laurence Yep. Displayed are children's books from 1950s to present, from adventure stories and folk tales to social histories and narratives about cultural identity. This exhibit shows how the groundbreaking books of Laurence Yep, and other proponents, helped to define and develop what is today a flourishing multicultural literature.

Adventures With The Other

It was not uncommon for children's literature to depict non-western cultures as exotic or even dangerous. In the work of G.A. Henty, race and cultural differences were often constructed as metaphors in morality plays rather than as representations of living people. The desegregation of society, and a critical awareness of race and culture, led educators and authors to recognize the ill effects of these imperial and colonial stereotypes. New antiracist and multicultural narratives were called into action.

  • Burow-Flak, Elizabeth. Dick and Jane Pages [created as a course supplement to the First-Core course at Valparaiso University]
  • Henty, G. A. Redskin and Cow-Boy : A Tale of the Western Plains. London: Blackie.
  • --- The Dash for Khartoum : A Tale of the Nile Expedition. London: Blackie.
  • Henty, G. A., and Alfred. Pearse. Redskin and Cow-Boy a Tale of the Western Plains. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1919.
  • Henty, G. A. With the Allies to Pekin : A Tale of the Relief of the Legations. Taipei: Ch'eng Wen, 1974.
  • Seton, Ernest Thompson. Two Little Savages Being the Adventures of Two Boys Who Lived as Indians and What They Learned. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1911.
  • Stratemeyer, Edward, and A. Burnham. Shute. The Campaign of the Jungle, or, under Lawton through Luzon, Old Glory Series. Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1900.

The Cultural Turn in Childrens Literature

As early as 1965, Nancy Larrick published an article entitled The All-White World of Childrens Books. Through her research, Larrick found that the number of books about minorities was lacking. The few available books contained stereotypes.

  • -- See, Attebury, N.G. Bridging the gap in children's literature for Asian American youngsters. The Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin v. 67 no. 2 (Winter 2001) p. 33-9

Authors, educators and librarians saw the perpetuation of racial and ethnic stereotypes in literature as a constraint on human and community development. Not only were depictions of others prejudicial, they were alienating to the children of our increasingly heterogeneous society. Displayed here are some early and more contemporary bibliographies encouraging a more diverse interpretation of culture.

  • Anderson, Nancy A. Elementary Childrens Literature : The Basics for Teachers and Parents. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 2002.
  • Lindgren, Merri V., University of Wisconsin--Madison. Cooperative Childrens Book Center., and Multicolored Mirror Childrens Literature Conference. The Multicolored Mirror : Cultural Substance in Literature for Children and Young Adults. Fort Atkinson, Wis.: Highsmith Press, 1991.
  • Manna, Anthony L., and Carolyn S. Brodie. Many Faces, Many Voices : Multicultural Literary Experiences for Youth : The Virginia Hamilton Conference. Fort Atkinson, Wis.: Highsmith Press, 1992.
  • Pavonetti, Linda M. Childrens Literature Remembered : Issues, Trends, and Favorite Books. Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2004.
  • Smallwood, Betty Ansin., and National Clearinghouse for ESL Literacy Education. Using Multicultural Childrens Literature in Adult Esl Classes, Eric Digest. [Washington, DC]: ERIC, National Clearinghouse for ESL Literacy Education, 1998.
  • Steiner, Stanley F. Promoting a Global Community through Multicultural Childrens Literature. Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited and its division Teacher Ideas Press, 2001.
  • Sternberg, Barbara, and J. Allen. Queen. Using Multicultural Literature to Teach K-4 Social Studies : A Thematic Unit Approach. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2002.

Laurence Yep: An Author Opens New Worlds to Children

A native of San Francisco, award-winning author Laurence Yep has published dozens of books for children and young adults. In honor of his lecture at the Mondavi Center on January 19, 2005, this exhibit features some of Yep's work, along with biographical information and essays about his impact on multicultural writing for children. His lecture, entitled Words Take Wing: Honoring Diversity in Childrens Literature, is sponsored by the School of Education and Childrens Hospital at UC Davis.

  • Yep, Laurence. American Dragons : Twenty-Five Asian American Voices. 1st ed. ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1993.
  • --- The Case of the Goblin Pearls. 1st ed. ed, Chinatown 1. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997.
  • --- Dragonwings. 1st ed. ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1975.
  • --- Dragonwings. New York, N.Y.: Dramatists Play Service, 1993.
  • --- The Journal of Wong Ming-Chung : A Chinese Miner, My Name Is America. New York: Scholastic, 2000.
  • --- The Magic Paintbrush. 1st HarperTrophy ed. New York: HarperTrophy, 2003.
  • --- Monster Makers, Inc. New York: NAL Penguin, 1987.
  • --- The Rainbow People. 1st ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1989.
  • --- The Serpent's Children. 1st ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1984.
  • --- The Tigers Apprentice [Book One] New York: HarperCollins, 2003.
  • --- Thief of Hearts. 1st Harper Trophy ed. ed. New York, NY: HarperTrophy, 1997.
  • Yep, Laurence and Kazuhiko Sano. Spring Pearl : The Last Flower, Girls of Many Lands. Middleton, Wis.: Pleasant Co. Publications, 2002.
  • Yep, Laurence and Robert Van Nutt. The Junior Thunder Lord. 1 vols. [Mahwah, N.J.]: BridgeWater Books, 1994.
  • Yep, Laurence and Su-ling Wang. The Magic Paintbrush. 1st HarperTrophy ed. ed. New York: HarperTrophy, 2003.
  • Yep, Laurence and David Wiesner. The Rainbow People. 1st ed. ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1989.
  • Johnson-Feelings, Dianne. Presenting Laurence Yep, Twaynes United States Authors Series. Young Adult Authors. New York London: Twayne Publishers Prentice Hall International, 1995.

The Changing Role of Multicultural Childrens Literature in the Educational Curriculum

Childrens Literature was not only seen as a way to introduce children to a deeper variety of cultural practices, but educators and authors saw in children's books a vehicle for progressively complex and sensitive social histories. For example, Laurence Yep's Hiroshima: A Novella (1995) has gained high praise for the straightforward manner in which he retells this tragic episode of history. Education researchers and practitioners today see children's literature as a powerful tool in the overall human and intellectual development of our society.

  • Brown, Jean E., Elaine C. Stephens, and National Council of Teachers of English. United in Diversity : Using Multicultural Young Adult Literature in the Classroom, Classroom Practices in Teaching English V. 29. Urbana, Ill.: National Council of Teachers of English, 1998.
  • Dale, Doris Cruger. Bilingual Books in Spanish and English for Children. Littleton, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1985.
  • Hayden, Carla Diane. Venture into Cultures : A Resource Book of Multicultural Materials and Programs. Chicago: American Library Association, 1992.
  • Helbig, Alethea., and Agnes. Perkins. This Land Is Our Land : A Guide to Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994.
  • MacCann, Donnarae, and Gloria Woodard. The Black American in Books for Children: Readings in Racism. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1972.
  • Mazer, Anne. America Street : A Multicultural Anthology of Stories. 1st ed. ed. New York: Persea Books, 1993.
  • McGovern, Edythe M. They're Never Too Young for Books : Literature for Pre-Schoolers. Los Angeles: Mar Vista Pub., 1980.
  • Murphy, Barbara Thrash., and Barbara. Black authors and illustrators of children's books. Rollock. Black Authors and Illustrators of Books for Children and Young Adults : A Biographical Dictionary. 3rd ed. ed, Garland Reference Library of the Humanities V. 2157. New York: Garland Pub., 1999.
  • Nichols, Margaret S., and Margaret N. O'Neill. Multicultural Bibliography for Preschool through Second Grade: In the Areas of Black, Spanish-Speaking, Asian American, and Native American Cultures. Stanford, Calif.: Multicultural Resources, 1972.
  • Nieto, Sonia. The Light in Their Eyes : Creating Multicultural Learning Communities, Multicultural Education Series. New York: Teachers College Press, 1999.
  • Norton, Donna E. Multicultural Childrens Literature : Through the Eyes of Many Children. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Merrill Prentice Hall, 2001.
  • Shargel, Susan., and Irene. Kane. We Can Change It! [San Francisco, Ca.] Change for Children, 1974.
  • Stinton, Judith. Racism and Sexism in Childrens Books. London: Writers and Readers Publishing Cooperative, 1979.
  • Thomas, Rebecca L. Connecting Cultures : A Guide to Multicultural Literature for Children. New Providence, N.J.: R.R. Bowker, 1996.

Todays Flourishing Childrens Literature

The rich assortment of multicultural stories today represents the commitment of authors and educators to create a collection of resources which matches the diversity we see in our society. Parents, educators, children, and librarians have many more titles to choose from than they did in the past. Accompanying this assortment is a growing critical literature on the children's books. Periodicals like the Journal of Children's Literature, and Multicultural Education as well as associations such as Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association can help advance truly excellent multicultural children's books.

  • De La Paz, Myrna J., and Youshang. Tang. Abadeha : The Philippine Cinderella. Auburn, Calif.: Shen's Books, 2001.
  • Denenberg, Barry. The Journal of Ben Uchida, Citizen 13559, Mirror Lake Internment Camp. 1st ed. ed, My Name Is America. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1999.
  • Grutman, Jewel H., Gay. Matthaei, and Adam Cvijanovic. The Journal of Julia Singing Bear. 1 vols. Charlottesville, Va.: Thomasson-Grant, 1995.
  • Heo, Yumi. Father's Rubber Shoes. New York: Orchard Books, 1995.
  • Hernandez, Irene Beltran. Heartbeat, Drumbeat. Houston, Tex.: Arte Publico Press, 1992.
  • Hernandez, Jo Ann Yolanda. White Bread Competition. Houston, Tex.: Pinata Books, 1997.
  • Holman, Sandy Lynne., and Lela. Kometiani. Grandpa, Is Everything Black Bad? 1 vols. Davis, CA: Culture Coop, 1995.
  • Irwin, Hadley. We Are Mesquakie, We Are One. Old Westbury, N.Y.: Feminist Press, 1980.
  • Kim, Helen. The Long Season of Rain. 1st ed. ed, Edge Books. New York: Holt, 1996.
  • Lachtman, Ofelia Dumas. The Girl from Playa Blanca. Houston, TX: Pinata Books, 1995.
  • Lancaster, Clay. Michiko. Rutland.: C. E. Tattle Co., 1965.
  • Look, Lenore., and Yumi. Heo. Henry's First-Moon Birthday. 1st ed. ed. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2001.
  • Namioka, Lensey. Who's Hu? New York: Vanguard Press, 1980.
  • --- Valley of the Broken Cherry Trees. New York: Delacorte Press, 1980.
  • --- April and the Dragon Lady. 1st ed ed. San Diego: Browndeer Press, 1994.
  • --- Ties That Bind, Ties That Break : A Novel. New York: Delacorte Press, 1999.
  • Namioka, Lensey., and Kees de. Kiefte. Yang the Second and Her Secret Admirers. New York, New York: Dell Yearling, 2000.
  • --- Yang the Second and Her Secret Admirers. New York, New York: Dell Yearling, 2000.
  • Okimoto, Jean Davies. Talent Night. New York: Scholastic, 1995.
  • Ortiz Cofer, Judith. An Island Like You : Stories of the Barrio. New York: Orchard Books, 1995.
  • Pak, Soyung., and Susan Kathleen. Hartung. Dear Juno. 1 vols. New York: Viking, 1999.
  • Say, Allen. Tea with Milk. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999.
  • Shange, Ntozake., and Michael. Sporn. Whitewash. 1 vols. New York: Walker & Co., 1997.
  • Soto, Gary. Jesse. 1st ed. ed. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1994.
  • --- Local News. First Scholastic printing. ed. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1994.
  • Soto, Gary., and Eric. Velasquez. The Skirt. New York: Dell Publishing, 1994.
  • --- Local News. First Scholastic printing. ed. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1994.
  • Soto, Gary., and Susan Guevara. Chato's Kitchen. New York: Putnam, 1995.
  • Staples, Suzanne Fisher. Shabanu : Daughter of the Wind. New York: Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1989.
  • Telemaque, Eleanor Wong. It's Crazy to Stay Chinese in Minnesota. 1st ed. ed. Nashville: T. Nelson, 1978.
  • Uchida, Yoshiko., and Donald Carrick. Journey to Topaz : A Story of the Japanese-American Evacuation. New York: Scribner, 1971.
  • Wong, Angi Ma. Night of the Red Moon. Palos Verdes: Pacific Heritage Books, 1995.
  • Wong, Janet S., and Yangsook. Choi. This Next New Year. 1st ed. ed. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2000.
  • Wong, Janet S., and Margaret Chodos-Irvine. Buzz. 1st ed. ed. 1 vols. San Diego: Harcourt, 2000.
  • Yamate, Sandra S., and Janice Tohinaka. Ashok by Any Other Name. 1 vols. Chicago, Ill.: Polychrome Pub. Corp., 1992.

The Folk Tradition, Age Old Teacher of Youth and Adults

The deceptively simple human tales in the folk tradition of many cultures have long fascinated both children and adults. Folk stories, however, are a living discourse, often adapted to both audience and era. Laurence Yep's gripping stories are successful because he can articulate the time-tested stories of folk and legend for todays youth.

  • Barbosa, Rogerio Andrade., Feliz. Guthrie, Cica. Fittipaldi, and Volcano Press. African Animal Tales. Volcano, CA: Volcano Press, 1993.
  • Barker, William Henry, and Cecelia. Sinclair. West African Folk-Tales. Northbrook, Ill.: Metro Books, 1972.
  • Bates, Roy. Chinese Dragons, Images of Asia. Oxford New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Christie, Anthony. Chinese Mythology. London: Hamlyn, 1968.
  • Davison, Gary Marvin. Tales from the Taiwanese, World Folklore Series. Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2004.
  • Han, Carolyn. The Demon King and Other Festival Folktales of China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1995.
  • Jagendorf, M. A., Carl-Herman Tillhagen, and Hans. Helweg. The Gypsies' Fiddle, and Other Gypsy Tales. New York: Vanguard Press, 1956.
  • Mackenzie, Donald Alexander. Myths of China and Japan. Boston: Longwood Press, 1977.
  • Metternich, Hilary Roe., P. Khorloo, and Norovsambuugiin. Baatartsog. Mongolian Folktales. Boulder, Colo. Seattle: Avery Press Distributed by University of Washington Press, 1996.
  • Radin, Paul. African Folktales, Princeton/Bollingen Paperbacks 200. [Princeton, N.J.]: Princeton University Press, 1970.
  • Shannon, George. A Knock at the Door, The Oryx Multicultural Folktale Series. Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx Press, 1992.
  • Singer, Isaac Bashevis, and Uri Shulevitz. The Golem. Sunburst ed ed. [New York]: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1996.
  • Sneve, Virginia Driving Hawk. The Trickster and the Troll. Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.
  • Strassberg, Richard E. A Chinese Bestiary : Strange Creatures from the Guideways through Mountains and Seas = [Shan Hai Jing]. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.
  • Zheleznova, Irina L'vovna. Tales of the Amber Sea : Fairy Tales of the Peoples of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Moscow Progress Publishers, 1974.