There are a variety of methods for finding quality and popular materials:
Use the following criteria when making selections:
Excellent information on selecting materials can be found in From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children’s Books (1997, HarperCollins), written by Kathleen Horning of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center in Madison WI.
Ensure the collection reflects and presents an ethnically diverse community. It has been said that understanding is a primary weapon in the fight for tolerance among culturally diverse groups. Literature gives a voice to those of different cultures. It portrays the differences, yet emphasizes the things all people have in common such as love, family, and feelings. It fosters in all children a sense of self-esteem and broadens understanding of people and places.
Every culture has its folklore. There are wonderfully written and illustrated folk tales from all parts of the world and from regions all over the United States. But folklore is only the beginning of multicultural collection. Picture books, stories with multicultural characters, such as the easy nonfiction book Families (Morris), that positively portray diversity must be a part of every collection. There are books that allow children to experience life around the world, like those that feature and celebrate daily life, food, festivals, people, and land, as well as the poetry and story of various cultures. There are also books that present in subtle ways the diversity within America, and within a child’s own neighborhood. Examples include: Jamaica and Brianna (Havill), Bein’ With You This Way (Nikola-Lisa) and Matthew and Tilly (Jones).
Stanley Steiner, in his book Promoting a Global Community Through Multicultural Children’s Literature (2001, Libraries Unlimited), lists criteria for building a collection of multicultural literature promoting a global community:
There are a number of helpful multicultural bibliographies such as Steiner’s to guide you in making effective purchases of quality materials. In addition to regular professional journal book reviews, it is helpful to read and use special journals such as Críticas and Multicultural Review. You can also be ensured of quality when you add materials that have won the “Coretta Scott King” http://www.ala.org/ala/emiert/corettascottkingbookaward/corettascott.htm, “Pura Belpre” http://www.ala.org/ala/alsc/awardsscholarships/literaryawds/belpremedal/belprmedal.htm, and “Americas” http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/CLACS/outreach/americas.html Awards.
The Idaho Commission for Libraries has created and makes available to libraries within the state a traveling book exhibit “Building Bridges: Books That Bring Us Together” which comes with multiple copies of a booklist entitled 60+ Great Multicultural Books, annotated by Stan Steiner PhD. This exhibit will not only provide staff and library users with a chance to peruse a beautiful collection of multicultural materials but will aid library staff in collection development. You can find more information about the display by visiting the Read to Me web site: http://libraries.idaho.gov/node/393.
When selecting non-print media (videos, audios, CD-ROMs, etc) use the same general criteria as for books: quality, accuracy, and artistic merit. These formats are professionally reviewed just as books are. Production quality is another area to review. The Association for Library Service to Children creates annual lists of notable children’s videos and audio recordings. You can find them online at: http://www.ala.org/ala/alsc/awardsscholarships/awardsscholarships.htm.
Toys in the library and toys for lending should be those which are designed for particular developmental levels and assist cognitive and motor skill building such as those in the Lamaze™ or Discovery Toy™ lines. Library toys should be the kind of toys that trigger the imagination and foster pretending. They should not depend upon some predetermined or preprogrammed action for use, but upon industriousness and fantasy.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children, in a brochure entitled “Toys=Tools for Learning” includes a chart that starts at birth to three months, and goes up to five and six-year olds, and lists characteristics of children and types of good toys for each group. It also provides suggestions to parents for buying toys that relate to library accession as well:
The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio (1999), a useful guide to toys for staff and public, would be a good choice to include in the parent/teacher collection. Parent’s Choice awards are another sign of quality, reviewed materials.
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