This is another assignment for one of my grad school classes. We’re required to evaluate digital apps for their multicultural content, as well as their quality as an app. I think what’s been really interesting is how most of the great apps are only available for iPad. I wouldn’t say I’m anti-Apple. I’ve owned a Mac before and I certainly enjoy my iPod. But I really have no purpose for an iPad, so I don’t own one. That means doing this assignment in the first place was extremely difficult. Then, there’s the lack of multicultural apps, which is a big problem. It makes sense though, because it’s still a problem in the book industry. Why wouldn’t it be problem with book apps?
What Does It Mean to Be Global? is meant to teach children to think beyond their immediate surroundings and their own culture. The app is based on the original print book, but includes a couple of games, music, and some interactive features.
The overall message of this little book is great, but content leaves much to be desired. Let’s begin with some major problems with the images of this book. The characters representing Asian culture have somewhat squinted eyes compared to the others’ dotted eyes. On the page about different languages the character saying “bonjour” is wearing a beret. Not once when I was in France did I see anyone wearing a beret. On the page about appreciating different foods, a character I expect is meant to be a Latino boy is wearing a sombrero. Let’s just all agree that a boy wearing a sombrero and eating tacos is not a correct representation of Latino culture. There are more little things like that screaming stereotypes. There are also little things in the message that bother me, like the idea that traveling the world is the only way to experience other cultures and be “global.” If that were true, a lot of being would be out of luck because they don’t have the means to travel. The quality of the app isn’t much better than the quality of the book. It just a book that you can read or can be read to you. The animations aren’t meaningful. The games take the reader away from the story and don’t really teach the reader anything other than how to say “hello” in another language. I’m amazed that this won awards. I suppose when there’s barely anything to compete with in the way of multicultural apps, a book app filled with stereotypes wins out.
In short, I don’t recommend this book. The message and intentions might be good, but it’s not okay to further stereotypes, no matter how much you claim to accept others. It just shows you don’t know anything about those cultures.