In children’s books, it can be easier to find talking pandas than characters of color. Only six percent of children’s books published in 2012 featured diverse characters. Here’s a list to better reflect the U.S. today. (NPR)
- Read through our terrific activity “Cultural Diversity in the United States.” Work through its central questions.
- Kenneth Prewitt, former director of the U.S. Census Bureau, said the U.S. was “on [its] way to becoming the first country in history that is literally made up of every part of the world.” What do you think he meant?
- What parts of the world are represented in your neighborhood, city, or region? Are there:
- Native Americans?
- Families or communities that immigrated to the U.S. prior to the 19th century?
- Families or communities that arrived with the great migration waves of the 19th and early 20th centuries?
- First- or second-generation immigrants who arrived after World War II?
- New immigrant communities, who are working to establish an identity in the U.S. in the 21st century?
- Introduce three metaphors that people commonly use to describe cultural diversity in the United States: melting pot, salad bowl, kaleidoscope. Which metaphor do you think is most accurate? Why?
- The NPR booklist is a great way to appreciate new cultures or gain a greater understanding of your own. How else might you engage with cultural diversity?
- Food is a fantastic way to get to know the cultural traditions of a region. Check out our activity “Culture and Food and Ritual, Oh My!” to get a sense of how food helps defines the diverse cultures of the Middle East.
- Music is a fun way to learn about a culture. Check out our video profile of dancer-choreographer Kyle Abraham, who incorporates the diverse cultures of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, into his delightful, dazzling work.
- Movies! Television and film are entertaining and interesting ways to engage with a culture around the world or around the block. Check out these generally kid-friendly, culturally diverse suggestions:
- Like Frozen? Lilo & Stitch is another tale of sisterly solidarity, this one set on the sunny shores of Hawaii.
- Like Fantasia? Try the wonderfully silly Italian version, Allegro Non Troppo.
- Looking for slightly more adventurous, still gorgeous animation? Anything by Japanese legend Hayao Miyazaki is a good bet. His last film, The Wind Rises, might still be in a theater near you.
- Need a break from animation? Try the breathtaking, stop-motion version of the Russian classic Peter and the Wolf.
- Want even more strangely beautiful images? Try the shadow puppets of The Adventures of Prince Achmed.
- Like the ’70s flashbacks in X-Men: Days of Future Past? Try The Inkwell, a great family-reunion movie.
- Like Godzilla? The Korean monster movie The Host is funnier, scarier, and sadder.
- Like the Avengers defending the Earth from aliens? Try Attack the Block, where an odd assortment of Londoners defend their territory against fantastically rendered aliens.
- Like romantic weepies like The Fault in Our Stars? Sing your way through the Bollywood blockbuster Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.
- Like the malleable metaphors of the X-Men? Try District 9, a smart, exciting metaphor for apartheid and after.
- Like the martial arts in 300: Rise of an Empire? Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior is faster, furious-er, and more spectacular for being entirely human.
- Like Maleficient? Try Blancanieves, another fairy-tale retelling in which a severely beautiful queen banishes her stepdaughter to a life of . . . bullfighting. With heroic dwarfs. And no happily ever after.