Friday, October 06, 2006

Multiculturalism

Today I read a book by Beverly Cleary called Socks. The family cat is displaced from the affections of his owners by the arrival of their infant son. Socks is indignant at being treated shabbily, and rightly so. Were I him, I'd have clawed the eyes out of that brat. Then I read a book narrated by Meriwether Lewis' newfoundland Seaman. He liked catching squirrels in the Ohio River. Then I read some claptrap about a spined horny toad who climbs down a well to fetch a spoiled cowgirl's hat. Of course he's a prince. There was also a story about a dog in a library, another about the natural wonders of Yosemite, and finally a memoir of a Japanese American grandfather who loved California more than his native Nippon. Next week I get to formulate all of this stuff (and more) into a Social Studies unit called "This Land is Your Land." The subtitle: "How do the diverse regions and peoples of the United States reflect its greatness?"

There are few diverse peoples in these stories--mostly we get talking dogs, toads, ants, bears, and cats. I guess that's diversity, though. The toad does speak Spanish.

6 comments:

Flea said...

Oh my god, Socks haunts me. When I was pregnant and when Eve was really little, I soooo worried about being mean to Dante like Socks' owners.
Poor kitty!

geoff said...

Yeah, Socks gets a raw deal. I like the babysitter who comes over, immediately puts Scotch tape on the baby's toe, and takes care of Socks for the evening.

Anonymous said...

UG... Can you beg and plead with someone to allow you to choose new literature??? Those are horrid representations and there are many good ones out there!

Your duty as an advocate of good literature and true diversity education if nothing else...

:) Lil Sis

geoff said...

I think our books are chosen by publisher agreements in consultation with the Boards of Ed and the Board of Directors. Also, whoever sends us free copies.

Remember--these are for 4th graders who are reading well below fed standards.

Anonymous said...

Yes but they are still deserving of good children's books that represent real life and not the barnyard my brother! There are amazing books for even pre-k that send awesome messages without using cats and rabbits.
It is just one of my soap boxes is all...a real opportunity for you to take a stand and possibly educate those systems. They may not even realize that teaching diversity through Donny the dear and Toommy the Toad isn't the best way! (you can just tell me to shut up if you want!)

geoff said...

Nah, I like rants.

But I'm not VP of Education. I'm joe schmoe in development (all small letters). I don't rate an opinion yet. Socks is the first children's book I've read since, oh, 1976? Who am i to judge?