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The Greta D. Little and Joel Myerson Collection of Multicultural Children's Books enriches with its world view


The Greta D. Little and Joel Myerson Collection of Multicultural Children's Books was born in 2013.

"It's the first part of an ongoing donation that, when complete, will number 10,000 to 15,000 titles," said Dr. Greta Little, emerita faculty in the University of South Carolina Department of English Language and Literature, where she taught linguistics and children's literature. She started the first part of the collection in order to share older books with her classes.

"The broader perspective grew from my experiences teaching outside the U.S.," she said. "After a Fulbright Fellowship in Morocco in 1993, I began the Arab section of the collection because I wanted to understand how portrayals of Arabs in children's books influence American perceptions of Arabs and their cultures. Since Joel was an experienced collector, when he retired we got much more professional with our efforts. We expanded the collection beyond Africa and the Arab world to include the indigenous cultures of the countries we enjoyed visiting – the Inuit from Canada, native peoples of the Pacific Northwest, the Maori of  New Zealand, Australian aboriginals, and other peoples of Polynesia, the South Pacific, and the Pacific Rim.

"The collection is multifaceted, as well as multicultural,” she said. "It includes 19th- and early 20th-century books and periodicals that I used for teaching and research, a large number of geographical series intended to introduce children to the lands and people of the world, illustrated versions of the Arabian Nights, and books presenting the lore and art of the countries we collect. Because nearly all of the books are illustrated, it is possible to see how various peoples and cultures are visually portrayed, as well as verbally described, over many decades.”

Shown here: Dr. Greta Little shares some of her favorite children's book titles.