Teachers must be careful in communicating messages to children that they may receive as prejudiced against a particular culture or minority in the class population. York (2006) claims that stereotypical messages have powerful impact on children’s perception of reality, and may lead to the development of prejudice. For example, only having “white” dolls and not “black” may tell children that black people are not worthy to be used as models in learning. Hence, it is important to choose classroom materials and activities wisely to promote social skills and social action instead of prejudice. Narahara (1998) discusses how gender stereotypes in books can affect children. She contends that storybooks provide role models for children in defining standards for feminine and masculine behavior, and books that have stereotypical content for gender. On the other hand, non-sexist books encourage the development of positive self-concept, attitudes and behavior.
Bainbridge, Pantaleo and Ellis (1999) suggest that multicultural books be included in the repertoire of classroom materials claiming that multicultural children’s literature supports and encourages tolerance and understanding among children. Books should reflect characters from the same culture as the students’. Examples of story themes are protagonists who dealt with race issues and children who solved problems successfully. Lesson plans should incorporate culturally relevant ideas in each diverse classroom (Edwards & Kuhlman, 2007).
Classrooms that reflect multicultural themes display materials that promote peace and respect for all people such as posters advocating peace and non-violent resolutions to conflict and pictures of people from various racial and cultural groups. Exposure to these materials instills positive social values in children. Likewise, allowing them to interact with non-stereotypical and multicultural materials such as multiethnic block play people,