Skip to Main Content

Children's Literature Portraying Religious Diversity in the US


Rubric for Evaluating Books that Represent Diverse Religious Content


Scoring: 1-3;

1- poor     2- meets some of the criteria     3- excellent 


Pluralistic Theme 

The book fosters the idea that religion and diversity are an integral asset. Founded upon tenets of social justice and freedom, the book conveys a continuation of cultural traditions (holidays languages and beliefs) as positive. The book portrays relationships between characters from different cultures. The book promotes non- mandatory assimilation. 


Portrayed Characters 

The book portrays this specific group of people as empowered people. The characters accurately define concepts of struggles for justice appropriate to the religion/cultural group. The literature avoids stereotypes associated with this religion. 

Setting in US 

While the book may contain historical or cultural perspectives from other countries, the main setting of the book is in the U.S., to promote the understanding that the U.S. is a religiously diverse society. 

Authentic Illustrations 

Illustrations compliment the book. The religious individuals do not look identical or have unique physical qualities. 

Strong Plot & Characterization 

The book has a strong plot and effective characterization for reader’s enjoyment of the story. The piece of literature is well written and of high quality in regards to theme, plot, setting, and characters. Will children enjoy this book? 

Reader’s Cultural Consciousness 

The story components are relevant to the reader’s own life and have the power to positively shape his or her cultural consciousness. 


We developed this rubric based on previous published articles that evaluated children’s literature (Al-Hazza & Bucher, 2008; Authors, 2013; 2015; Higgins, 2002; Livingston & Kurkjian, 2005; Pang, Colvin, Tran & Barba, 1992). 

Selected References

Al-Hazza, T., & Bucher, K.T. (2008). Building Arab Americans' cultural identity and acceptance with children's literature. The Reading Teacher, 62(3), 210–219.

Bishop, Rudine Sims. (1990). “Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors.” Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom, 6(3).

Blumenfeld, W. J. (2006). Christian privilege and the promotion of “secular” and not-so “secular” mainline Christianity in public schooling and in the larger society. Equity & Excellence in Education, 39, 195-210.

Dever, M.T., Whitaker, M. L., & Byrnes, D. A. (2001). The 4 th R: Teaching about religion in the public schools. The Social Studies, 92(5), 220-229.

Gay, G. (2010). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice. New York: Teachers Press.

Green, Connie R., Sandra Brenneman. Oldendorf, and Emily Katherine Green. Scott. Religious Diversity and Children’s Literature Strategies and Resources . Charlotte, N.C: Information Age Pub., 2011.

Gunn, A, Bennett, S. & van Beynen, K (Fall 2020). Using Children's Literature to Facilitate Discussion About Religious Diversity, Social Sciences and the Youth Learner.

Livingston, N., & Kurkjian, C. (2005). Circles and celebrations: Learning about other cultures through literature. The Reading Teacher, 58(7), 696–703.

Morgan, H. (2009). Using read-alouds with culturally sensitive children’s books: A strategy that can lead to tolerance and improved reading skills. Reading Improvement, 46(1), 3-8. 

Ruelle, K. G. (2010). The grand mosque of Paris: A story of how Muslims saved Jews during the Holocaust. NY, NY: Holiday House.

Schlosser, L. Z. (2003). Christian privilege: Breaking a sacred taboo. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 31(1), 44-51.

Subedi, B. (2006). Preservice teachers’ beliefs and practices: Religion and religious diversity. Equity & Excellence in Education, 39, 227-238.