Building Bridges Newsletter
This is one of a series of newsletters written by Peter Porr and Paul Sjordal between September 1993 and December 1995 for the purpose of explaining the South-East Asia Center’s Building Bridge’s objectives, philosophy, and approach to learning.
THE LAND OF MANY COLORS
A class of pre-schoolers in Klamath Falls, Oregon wrote
with their teacher one of the best anti-violence reading books for K-3 that we
have ever found. The Land of Many
Colors evolved during the Persian Gulf war because the preschoolers had
many questions about war due to family members and friends involvement.
The teacher, Charlotte (Coco)
Reyes of the Klamath County YMCA Family Preschool, asked questions like “What
kind of people should we have? What are
they like? What should happen in our
story?” She kept notes on the children’s
answers. Once the teacher had the ideas
down it wasn’t hard to arrange them into the story. Each child created an illustration depicting
a part of the story. For publication, a
professional illustrator, Rita Pocock, gave the story a finished look. The following is a summation of the story:
In The Land of Many Colors,
the purple and blue people wanted more toys and food while the green people
thought they were the best. Before they
knew it, they were at war. Everything
was ruined and the people were very sad.
Then, one child all
covered with dust so you couldn’t tell what color he was, asked why everyone was hurting each other. The people listened to his explanation and said he was right. So they cooperated together and built a new community that became a peaceful and loving world.
The Land of Many Colors is published by Scholastic Inc.,
London, Auckland, Sydney, Copyright 1993.
TWO MULTICULTURAL MAGAZINES
Two magazines that address
multicultural education are Teaching Tolerance and Multicultural Education.
Teaching Tolerance is mailed
twice a year at no charge to educators.
It is published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit legal and education foundation based in
Address: 400 Washington Ave.,
AL 36104. Fax: 205-264-3121.
Multicultural Education is published quarterly by the
National Association for Multicultural Education. Subscription cost is $40 annually. The magazine’s role is to serve as a forum
for the exchange of information and opinion on multicultural education –
focusing on considerations of the nature and content of multicultural education
as a field of study. They invite an expansion of the multicultural debate with
submissions of articles, reviews, descriptions of successful programs and
letters to the editor.
Address: Priscilla H. Walton,
Editor, c/o Caddo Gap Press, 3145 Geary Blvd. #275, San Francisco, CA
94118. Phone: 415-750-9978.
They also invite people to become
a member of the Association for $75 yearly that includes a subscription to the
This issue of Building Bridges
is a compilation
of recommended books and
ADDY- HEROINE SLAVE
A nine-year old African American
fictitious heroine, Addy Walker, has recently captivated preteens and
parents. Addy escapes from slavery,
begins a new life in Philadelphia and works hard at getting an education that
she knows is her best chance at real freedom.
Addy was conceived by author
Connie Porter with the help of a seven-member advisory board of educators, curators
and other African American history experts.
Three Addy books have been written, Meet Addy, Addy Learns a Lesson and Addy’s Surprise. Three more are due out in 1994. The books are part of the very popular
American Girl series published by Pleasant Company, a Wisconsin corporation
founded in 1985 by former elementary schoolteacher Pleasant Rowland.
Addy joins four other American
Girl characters, each a product of intensive historical research. The series include dolls and paper doll sets
for each character.
Some people have criticized
Porter for publishing books about slavery.
Porter says in an interview with Chicago Sun-Times staff-writer, Mary
Gillespie, (Oct.-27, 1993) “the idea of the books is not to horrify children,
but to put a face on history. We tend to
talk about subjects like this in broad terms, so that they lose their
humanity. I tried to put myself in the
mind of a child. How could I tell the truth without painting too horrible a
picture? You can’t have the young reader
left with no feeling of hope.”
In the interview she added, “From
what I’ve seen, kids of all colors just seem interested in her as a character
and how she makes her way through the
stories. There’s an innocence about the
way they receive Addy that’s reassuring.
They haven’t taken on all the baggage yet.”
The Rev. Willie Barrow, chairman of Operation PUSH
said, “There are probably people in the community who aren’t comfortable with
their own painful history, and I don’t down them for that. But I believe it is vital for young
African-American girls to read books (like the “Addy” series) with a character who looks like
them, to see this doll advertised in all her beauty and to begin to understand
their full history.”
The books and dolls are sold in
bookstores. For questions or orders call
1-800-845-0005. Pleasant Company’s
mailing address is 8400 Fairway Place, Middleton, WI 53562.
GOALS OF MULTICULTURAL
Joel Spring, a professor of
education at State University of New York, in the Winter 1993 issue of
Multicultural Education wrote an essay review of Ronald Takaki’s book, A
Different Mirror. A History of Multicultural
Brown, 1993. Professor Spring raises
several questions about the goals of multicultural history and education.
He says that “While Takaki’s book
is a well written history of groups often forgotten in writing of U.S. history
and it does provide insight into the economic exploitation and discrimination
of Native Americans, Irish, Asians, Mexicans and Jews, it’s not a multicultural
history of the United States.”
He raises the following
1. Will multicultural history and education build cultural and
racial tolerance or will it increase tensions by revealing the extent of
exploitation and injustice in U.S. history and society?
2. Should the focus of multiculturalism be on the separate cultures
comprising the United States or on how these cultures intersect to create an
- Is multicultural history and education primarily concerned with neglected and dominated groups in American society or is multicultural history and education about the interaction of all groups in American-society?
- Is multicultural history and education primarily designed for European Americans to learn about other cultures comprising the United States?
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