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Korean parents' perspectives on Korean American children's literature

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There are few studies on parents' perspectives on multicultural literature. Most studies on Korean American children's literature have relied on the researchers' content analysis of the books, rather than readers'

There are few studies on parents' perspectives on multicultural literature. Most studies on Korean American children's literature have relied on the researchers' content analysis of the books, rather than readers' responses to them. To fill this gap, this study sought to understand the Korean/Korean American parents' perspectives on Korean American children's literature by examining their responses to seven picture books on Korean American children. Data were collected for this qualitative study by interviewing ten Koreans/Korean Americans, twice. The first interview focused on stories about their immigration to the U.S., involvement with their children's reading, and experiences reading books related to Korea or Koreans published in the U.S. The second interview focused on their responses to seven Korean American children's literature books. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, coded, and analyzed. The parents' responses, which were infused with their personal, social, and cultural marks, focused on five themes: (a) use of Korean names without specific cultural description, (b) misrepresentation of Korean/Korean American experiences, (c) undesirable illustrations, (d) criteria for good Korean American children's literature, and (e) use of Korean words in English books. The parents' stories about their involvement with their children's reading suggest that to promote multicultural literature, libraries or schools should offer lists of multicultural literature. The parents' responses showed concern about stereotypical images of Korea or Korean American in the U.S. media that often get transferred to stories about Korean Americans in Korean American children's literature. This study confirms the importance of editors and reviewers, who are knowledgeable about the Korean culture and Korean American experience. It also suggests that more books with varied images of Korean Americans, and more stories about Korean Americans children's authentic experiences are necessary in order to represent the complexity and divergence within Korean people and the Korean American culture.

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  • 2013