What Can Danish Multicultural Children’s Literature and African American Children’s Literature Learn from Each Other?
Literary Histories in Dialogue
In its pedagogical context, multicultural literature is defined as an instrument for multicultural education that seeks to include and raise the voices of historically silenced and invisible minorities in the school curriculum.
The contemporary American definition of multicultural literature emphasizes #OwnVoices and elevates authentic stories from insider perspectives, while in Denmark, no clear line is drawn between the author’s background and the literary content when categorizing multicultural literature that depicts minorities’ experiences. In this article, an African American scholar and a Danish scholar will put Danish and African American children’s literary histories in dialogue with one another and ask what Danish multicultural literature can learn from existing definitions within American multicultural and African American children’s literature, formulated by Rudine Sims Bishop, Mingshui Cai, and Michelle H. Martin. They will also address what literary movements and practices might be adapted to facilitate a more welcoming space for minority stories in Danish literature. In the United States, lively conversations are occurring about insiders vs. outsiders, #OwnVoices, and stereotypes; what are the implications for Danish children’s literature? The writers will analyze recently published works from each country that depicts the lives of minoritized people such as Özlem Cekic and Dorte Karrebæk’s Ayse får en lillebror (2018) and Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James’s Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut (2017). This comparative analysis will highlight how marginalized and silenced voices bring new perspectives and fresh ideas into the cultural conversations of each country that would otherwise go unrepresented in children’s literature.
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