Children’s Literature and Chinese Culture

A look at the contributions of Paul Yee and Laurence Yep to children’s multicultural literature.

This paper explores the children’s literature of Paul Yee and Laurence Yep and relates that Yee and Yep are successful children’s authors who have chosen to interpret traditional Chinese stories, traditions and events of history for young readers who may be with or without a Chinese heritage. The paper provides some background information on both authors and addresses the stereotypes of the Chinese in North America. The paper looks at Canadian multiculturalism and the future of the Chinese in Canada. The paper concludes that Canadian children stand to benefit from future literary offerings that will correctly present the Chinese population, its experience and its cultural heritage in terms that the non-Chinese reader will understand.
`Norton has commented that relatively few well-recommended books written for children happen to address Asian American perspectives. (1999, 626f) With attention to the Chinese presence in North America, this absence of material has perhaps been especially lamentable, in view of a quite large and varied Chinese representation that is of long-standing origin in relation to other visible minority groups. Moreover, the trials and tribulations of the Chinese in North America since the early decades of the 19th century, offer a most inspiring saga of the disadvantaged and put-upon migrant who manages at last to achieve in an unfamiliar and challenging environment. In short, there is much in the North American Chinese record of adaptation and achievement that stands to inspire interesting works which can present appealing ideals of forebearance and accomplishment against the odds. The work of creating materials for children which address Chinese themes and explain Chinese culture can take advantage of this sometimes most dramatic story of ultimate success in the New World.`