Checklist: Selecting and Evaluating Multicultural Picture Storybooks

Selecting quality, meaningful picture storybooks can be challenging in any context. Ensuring your classroom library, chosen mentor texts and lesson plans reflect the diversity of cultures and backgrounds that can be found in most Australian classrooms is critical. Fortunately, in 2010 Laurie Harper and Susan Brand created a fantastic checklist that can be utilised to ensure you're selecting the right multicultural picture storybooks, that will provide meaningful opportunities for engagement with students. This checklist was included in PETAA Paper 205: Educating for values and diversity through culturally inclusive children's literature, by Helen Adam and Laurie Harper.


Are the author/illustrator qualified to write or illustrate material relating to the culture(s) portrayed? How?
Have the author/illustrator conducted related research? If not, have they lived among (either as a member of or as a visitor to) the groups of people represented in the book?

Story Is the story interesting to students?
Does the story contain authentic language?
Are factual and historical details accurate?
Overall, is this a high-quality story, independent of its multicultural aspects?
Characters Are characters believable?
Are universal human emotions, attitudes, needs, and experiences reflected?
Do characters represent people from a variety of cultural groups?
Are life styles realistic?
Are females as well as males depicted in leadership roles?
Setting Does the story reflect a variety of places and times?
Are urban, suburban, and rural settings represented realistically?
Are cultural settings and geographical features represented accurately? 
Plot Are real situations depicted?
Are rigid boundaries of class, culture, religion and ethnicity dismissed?
Are various conflicts presented for students to explore and discuss?
How are conflicts resolved?
Theme Does the story offer students a variety of situations, concepts, and new ideas on which to reflect, question and consider?
Are values explored, rather than preached?
Are there lessons to be learned?
Are students exposed to multiple perspectives and values?
How does the story promote understanding of our diverse society?
Illustrations Are diverse populations represented?
Is there diversity represented within cultural groups?
Are characters realistically and genuinely represented?
Do the illustrations avoid reinforcing societal stereotypes?
Do the illustrations and text use authenticity to demonstrate respect for other cultures?
Do the illustrations and text convey characteristics common to all people and cultures?
Is the story age-appropriate; can students understand what is presented?
Is the story individually appropriate in terms of students' family backgrounds?
Does the story reflect the social, linguistic and cultural contexts in which students live or to which they can relate?
Will the story encourage meaningful and relevant discussions?