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Limited Images For Latino Children In Books

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By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - There’s little research about the cultural relevance in books and reading achievement at young ages.

Teachers and academics would like to see books about those of all origins. An article in The New York Times points out, however, that the absence of Hispanic children in books is troubling. If kids read only Judy Blume books with white and adventuresome characters only, “they start thinking of their language…and values as not belonging in school.” asserts, Mariano Souto-Manning who teaches at Columbia University.

Advocates are concerned about tokenism but publishers are trying. Mia is a major Latina character in a new series, “The Cupcake Diaries.” Houghton Mifflin allocates 18.6% of content to Latino characters – reflecting student demographics.

Teachers at Bayard Taylor elementary school in Philadelphia note that in the few available books about Hispanics, there are stereotypes of migrant workers or special holidays. It would be good to say to a child, “Read this book. The book reminds me of you,” and raise low proficiency rates of Hispanic children.

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