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Criteria for Selecting Literature

Two sets of criteria guide the selection of literature for the William and Mary Language Arts units. The first set of criteria insures challenge for high ability learners. The second set of criteria provides guidelines for selecting authentic multicultural literature.

  1. The language used in books for the gifted should be rich, varied, precise, complex, and exciting, for language is the instrument for the reception and expression of thought.
  2. Books should be chosen with an eye to their open-endedness, their capacity to inspire contemplative behavior, such as through techniques of judging time sequences, shifting narrators, and unusual speech patterns of characters.
  3. Books for the gifted should be complex enough to allow interpretative and evaluative behaviors to be elicited from readers.
  4. Books for the gifted should help them build problem-solving skills and develop methods of productive thinking.
  5. Books should provide characters as role models for emulation.
  6. Books should be broad-based in form, from picture books to folktales and myths, to nonfiction, to biography, to poetry, to fiction.

Multicultural Literature

  1. General accuracy--Works should adhere to high standards of scholarship and authentic portrayal of thoughts and emotions.
  2. Stereotypes--Stereotyping occurs when an author assigns general characteristics to a group rather than explores its members' diversity and individuality.
  3. Language--Language issues include appropriateness to age group, up-to-date terminology, avoidance of loaded words, and authentic use of dialect.
  4. Author's perspective--Perspective includes the author's mind-set, point of view, experience, and values.
  5. Currency of facts and interpretation--Copyright date alone does not assure recent information.
  6. Concept of Audience--Some books appeal to general audiences while others consider issues about heritage and cultural values that have special appeal to members of a specific group. The challenge is for authors to develop the reader's empathy.
  7. Integration of cultural information--Cultural information must be presented in a manner consistent with the flow of the story.
  8. Balance and multidimensionality--Books range from presenting an "objective" perspective which may contain subtle biases to those stating a particular viewpoint. Readers should have opportunities to see the multidimensionality of characters and cultures.
  9. Illustrations--Issues that relate to text apply to illustrations, for instance: illustrations must be accurate and up-to-date and without stereotypes.

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