Monday, March 14, 2011

A Book by its Cover: Reading Stereotypes

In an effort to foster contact between children of different ethnicities and eradicate stereotypes before they form, this social experiment uses storytelling as a vehicle for cultural understanding. Two very different schools, same format: Books designed to comfortably address race and prejudice are read to 9-10 year olds, ending with each child creating a book expressing their experience with prejudice. The books are then swapped between the schools. The ethnicity of each child’s “book-pal” is finally revealed in the form of a small gift, introducing themselves. Lesson of this story: We’re more alike than different.

Unfortunately, the picture most Americans have formed of people of Arabic descent is vastly skewed. According to a new study by the Pew Research Center nearly six in 10 (58 percent) Americans think Muslims are subject to discrimination. This prejudice is rooted in a lack of physical connection with Arabs or Muslims.

Books designed to address race will be read to children at different schools. Each child will then create their own book about an experience with discrimination, which will be swapped with another school. Finally, each child will design an autobiography and gift, for their "book-pal" revealing their race.

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