Building Bridges Newsletter

Newsletter Five

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.


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., New York, Toronto, London, Auckland, Sydney, Copyright 1993.


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 Montgomery, Alabama. 

Address: 400 Washington Ave., Montgomery,

            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 magazine.

This issue of Building Bridges is a compilation

of recommended books and magazines.


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.


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 MirrorA History of  Multicultural America, Little 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 questions:

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 American culture?

  • 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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