Multicultural children’s literature in Indonesia, children’s responses, and teachers’ perspectives

Herdiana (2023) Multicultural children’s literature in Indonesia, children’s responses, and teachers’ perspectives. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
[thumbnail of 2023HerdianaPhD.pdf] PDF
Download (4MB)


Amid global challenges on multicultural issues, multicultural children’s literature that aims to reduce prejudice and promote diversity is hailed as “one of the most hopeful developments in children’s literature” (Bishop, 2007, p. xiv). The same could be observed in Indonesia, a multicultural country that has witnessed growing ethno-religious conflicts after a regime change at the turn of the millennium. Since then, the increasing publication of multicultural books for children suggests a hopeful intervention to remedy the tensions between cultural groups.

As part of the multicultural education movement, multicultural children’s literature has more of a pedagogical than a literary focus (Cai, 2002). Gopalakhrisnan (2011) points out that the goal of multicultural literature is to give voice to and empower the marginalised. Scholars (DeNicolo & Franquiz, 2006; Iwai, 2013) also maintains that multicultural texts hold vast potential to encourage development of positive perspectives about different cultures.

However, empirical research with children using multicultural literature indicates complicated results. Some studies suggest potential to certain extent, such as encouraging deeper understandings on cultural identities (Martens et al., 2015) and gaining perspective-taking skills (Thein et al., 2007). Meanwhile, some other studies suggest readers’ resistance to perspective change and challenges to developing critical thinking might take place when presented with multicultural texts (Dressel, 2005; Hayik, 2015).

Underpinned by the theoretical framework of multicultural education, the study explores children’s responses to multicultural children’s literature and the teachers’ perspectives in Indonesia, in which a contextualised research of reader response has been largely under-studied. The approach used was literature circles with two groups of children in different schools, as well as focus group discussions with the teachers. To analyse the level of engagement of readers to multicultural texts from the data, James Banks’s (2010) approaches to multicultural content integration was adapted.
The findings unpack the complex nature of children’s responses to multicultural texts and highlight the significance of responses in engagement with literature. Key themes that emerged from the students’ responses suggest the need for children to navigate the different cultures they encounter in the texts and to draw from their identities and social contexts as they construct meaning. The study advocates that children’s curiosity for learning can become potential foundations for developing understanding towards a diversity of cultures.
By examining the teachers’ perspectives, the study makes a case for teachers to reflect on their understandings of diversity as they approach the use of multicultural literature for their classrooms. It also opens up avenues for pedagogical implications in implementing multicultural literature whilst addressing the challenges.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
P Language and Literature > PZ Childrens literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Arizpe, Professor Evelyn, Farrar, Dr. Jennifer and Davis, Professor Robert
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83991
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2023 15:00
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2023 07:38
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83991

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year