Tucky Jo and Little Heart: The Importance of Multicultural Literature

tucky jo and the little heart multicultural

As a teacher, I always enjoyed the depth in which Patricia Polacco has written her books for children. I discovered a treasure when I happened to come across a copy of Tucky Jo and Little Heart. It is the true tale of the life of a young soldier and his relationship with a young girl. The solder only knows as “Little Heart” due to the heart shaped birthmark on her arm. Through their co-dependency in the surrounding circumstances, they become close friends. They are able to help each other through many trials that affect his life and those of the villagers he helps. I highly recommend this book for the classroom. It is especially timely for Memorial Day when children seldom hear about the hardships of soldiers in the field.

The use of Multicultural books in and out of the classroom in this day and time is imperative.  When so many children are coming from multiracial and multi-cultural backgrounds, seeing their reflection in books is one way to encourage them to become life-long readers and learners.  Especially relevant is Maria Boles’ wonderful article entitled The Effects of Multicultural Literature in the Classroom for her Senior Honors Theses in 2006.

In this article, she articulates the importance of children seeing themselves in literature and relating to the characters and situations. This gives children an appreciation of their own cultural heritage and past.  While sharing literature in the classroom, I am always delighted when children connect personally with characters in the books. Nothing is more exciting than to hear them say, “We do that at our house” or “My grandmother did that for me.”

For children to engage in the reading process, they must see their lives reflected in the books they read.  Multicultural literature can open children’s minds, stimulate an understanding of diversity, and build an understanding of people in other cultures. Ms. Boles goes on to say “Literature is a powerful tool to weaken and dissolve racism.”

I could not have expressed my own sentiments about the importance of Multicultural Literature any better and applaud Ms. Boles for writing a masterful piece of work.


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Becky Enriquez Villareal was born in Dallas, Texas in 1954 to missionary parents who traveled around Texas serving various communities. For twenty years she has been teaching early childhood in Dallas Independent School District. For the past ten years, she has been completing family research on her mother’s and father’s families. The grandmother of two she enjoys writing and spending time with her family. As an elementary teacher and ten year veteran of genealogy, Becky has been able to enjoy not only working with children but finding out about her family history. She also enjoys a good cup of coffee, a quiet place to write, and a warm purring cat on her lap while she types.

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3 thoughts on “Tucky Jo and Little Heart: The Importance of Multicultural Literature”

  1. I love Patricia Polacco and haven’t heard of this one. Always great to find out about a new treasure. Thank you for finding it and sharing!

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