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Hoping Message of 'Rice' Will Stick

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Illinois), July 19, 2004


Storyteller and author Norah Dooley believes that if you want to teach children something, tell them a story. Her book Everybody Cooks Rice, for example, uses a simple plot device - the main character is sent out to find her little brother and bring him home for dinner - to raise issues of multiculturalism, tolerance and community.

The meals being prepared vary according to each family's cultural background. But Carrie, the main character, notices that as different as the meals are, they all use rice.

By the end of the book, when we, like Carrie, see that the use of rice in the neighbors' meals is an example of all the essential similarities that tie human beings together, even those who look or speak differently.

Dooley believes that's a message that can't be delivered too early, especially at a time when parts of the country that were nearly all white a generation ago are now home to people of varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds. She said.

"Some might think that message is old hat. But I was speaking at a school recently where a student asked me when I was going to write about 'real' Americans. There are still many children today who either aren't exposed to different kinds of people or aren't taught the importance of embracing them."

Subjects Covered: diversity training

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