From October 20-22, 2017, Dr. Jeana M. Hrepich displayed a research poster, Cultural Preservation & Asian Indian Children’s Literature at the International Board on Books for Young People regional conference in Seattle. Her research documents Asian Indian children’s literature by and about Asian Indian culture, and that especially focuses on preservation of cultural significance. This work was instigated by Kalpana M. Iyengar and Howard L. Smith’s question in a recent call for papers for the South Asian Review, “How do (children) construct their bicultural identities within the various spaces where they live?” Dr. Hrepich was curious about which texts help children in her case studies construct their bicultural, and in particular, their Asian Indian, identities. Conducting a small ethnographic study, Dr. Hrepich collected data about children’s desiring, engagement with, and connections to sample literature.
Dr. Hrepich’s work is based on the premise that “Children’s literature that reflects contributions, lifestyles, and values of ethnic groups will help children to have a better understanding of who they are and what contributions they can make” (Martinez & Nash, 1990). Using discussion strategies, she explored each child’s identity construction to available texts. Abundance of Asian Indian and Asian Indian American texts was obviously advantageous to children in this study. Because “multiethnic children’s books allow teachers and other adults to become more familiar with the cultural backgrounds of their students” (Ramirez & Ramirez, 1994), the ramifications of supply extends beyond the home. Dr. Hrepich documented several texts that appealed to children in her study.
This year’s IBBY conference theme was “Radical Change Beyond Borders: The Transforming Power of Children’s Literature in a Digital Age.” The IBBY conference is an international gathering of authors, scholars, teachers, librarians, and publishers.