These connections not only draw the young reader's interest into the book, but also place the content into a context that they can more readily understand. Ganji argues for more inclusive diversity in the texts, illustrations, writers, and the role of mentors in the array of children's books that are recommended for elementary libraries and classrooms.
Ganji illustrates the importance of viewing one's own culture in a book by telling the story of Bebot, a Philippine student that had read a copy of a book that reflected his own cultural heritage. Ganji noted that this was a "mirror book", a book that reflected his own self through the location of the setting, the characters, and the illustrations (30). While the author stated that mirror books were essential for young readers to be able to relate to the story, she stated that, "Unfortunately, classroom collections too often provide more mirror books for White children than for children of color". The availability of mirror books commonly available simply does not reflect the diverse classrooms that exist today.
The author pointed out two deficiencies in the system that are at the core of the problem; leveled reading lists and awards. Fountas and Pinnell rate and append lists of elementary readers by reading level. It is one of the most widely used lists used to create libraries for use by young readers. Yet, Ganji has found that "authors of color are represented about 1 percent", an insignificant number when compared to the population's color diversity. In addition to leveled reading lists, teachers and educators often take recommendations from books that have won awards. Here again, the author points to the deficiency of multicultural material available. Though there are multicultural awards given to books, most educators gravitate towards the more prestigious Caldecott and Newbery awards. The author noted that libraries ordered the winner of the Caldecott award twice as often as the winner of the Coretta Scott King award. To complicate the issue further, she stated that the committees that decide the most visible awards are made up of teachers, librarians, and educators that are mostly white. This deficiency in the selection process for elementary books also extends to lists, order forms, and book club selections.
Clearly, with our mobile population and diverse classroom settings multicultural texts and illustrations need to be implemented into the curricula. When a child can relate to the characters in the story, it helps place the reading into the context of their own lives. It not only generates an increased level of interest in reading, but also makes the sentences more understandable. In addition to the characters of color, the story needs to also reflect the culture of the student. The story needs to tell the student something about their heritage such as collective activity, cultural traditions, or holidays. This would not only benefit the young reader of color, but would also serve to educate the white students in a world of ever-increasing diversity.
For teachers that rely on leveled reading lists, awards, and book clubs to guide their selections the implications are enormous. Teachers need to be pro-active in doing their own individual research to seek out multicultural mat