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The Use of Multicultural Literature in Elementary School Classrooms Katherine Simpson August 2, 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "The Use of Multicultural Literature in Elementary School Classrooms Katherine Simpson August 2, 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Use of Multicultural Literature in Elementary School Classrooms Katherine Simpson August 2, 2007

2 What is Multicultural Literature Multicultural literature is literature that focuses on:  People of color (i.e., African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanic Americans)  Religious minorities (i.e., Amish or Jewish)  Regional cultures (i.e., Appalachian or Cajun)  Persons with disabilities  The aged

3 Introduction This presentation will explore use of multicultural literature in elementary classrooms and its possible benefits to students. It can be used to help children identify with their own culture, exposes children to other cultures, and opens the dialogue on issues regarding diversity (Colby & Lyon, 2004). Multicultural literature has the profound ability to shape our lives and our thinking. It offers children opportunities to celebrate who they are while learning about others. Teachers need to become more sensitive to the needs of their students and fully aware of what they communicate to them.

4 Overview It is important for teachers to know how to choose the literature that will be pivotal in their classrooms Teachers who adopt and utilize multicultural literature will be catalysts for improved reading achievement among students who are culturally and linguistically diverse (Callins, 2006). Multicultural literature may be used as a stimulus for creating classrooms where all students are valued. This presentation will also discuss the power of literature and teaching opportunities with the use of multicultural literature.

5 Power of Literature We communicate through literature and we share our opinions, values, experiences Literature has the power to perpetuate and dissolve stereotypes. Through a literature study students should not only just learn new facts, but Takaki (1999) states they should understand and respect one another’s cultures while recognizing the shared histories and experiences hat unite us. Children's books have the potential to support diversity in the curriculum and raise consciousness on cultural issues that have been historically ignored.

6 Power of Literature It is important for students to understand that people of different cultures are more similar than different from each other. When differences are noticeable, it is equally important for students to develop positive attitudes towards differences. Multicultural literature can help students to gain skills that foster collaboration and positive interactions.

7 Globalization and Tolerance Wan (2006) states that from the current terrorist activities, racial conflicts and gender differences to schoolyard bullies, most of them arise because of misunderstandings and intolerance of differences and diversities among people. Given this environment, it is even more important for us to understand, accept, and appreciate each other in school settings as well as in society. As globalization increases so does our interaction with people with different cultures. School is one environment where these interactions may first take place. Given this, it is crucial that these first experiences are ones of respect and tolerance. Children form ideas that they may impact their ideas about others throughout their future lives.

8 Teaching Opportunities Multicultural literature can also provide students with coping strategies that they can use in their own lives to solve problems. When students make connections while reading, this can increase their ability to be empathetic. They can vicariously learn how others think and feel. Books that have multiple perspectives, like Going Home by Bunting and Trophy or Smoky Nights by Bunting, can help students understand different perspectives may exist for one given situation. Teachers can also use books to show changes in prejudices and discrimination overtime (Pedersen & Kitano, 2006). For example, students can read White Socks Only by Coleman for a historical perspective and Play Lady by Hoffman for a present day perspective of social injustices. Other books can help students recognize their culture and help them achieve a more positive self concept. A Boy on Fairfield Street by Krull gives an account of being oneself, standing up for what is right, and persistence.

9 5 Important Aspects of the Classroom  High expectations  Exposure to academically rich curricula and materials  Approaches that are culturally and linguistically responsive and appropriate  Use of instructional technologies that enhance learning  An emphasis on student-regulated, active learning rather than passive, teacher-directed transmission

10 Guidelines for Choosing the Books Books should be age and developmentally appropriate for the student, as well as at the correct reading level for that student. Check for authenticity: the book should not contrived or full of inaccuracies. The ethnicity of the author and illustrators does not necessarily guarantee the book’s authenticity. The book needs to contain enough cultural elements to enable students to obtain new cultural knowledge and an increased understanding Teachers need to assess the story’s perspective and determine whether feelings are celebrated or exploited (Louie, 2006). The book should not have distortions or omissions of history.

11 Guidelines for Choosing the Books The lifestyles and speech of the characters should be genuine and complex, not oversimplified or generalized. The text and illustrations should not have negative or inaccurate stereotypes of the ethnic group being portrayed. Derogatory words should not be part of the text. Examples of such words are savage, primitive, lazy and backward (http://www.newhorizons.org/). There should not be anything in the story that would embarrass or offend a child whose culture is being portrayed. Most important of all, the book should provide many possibilities of class or group discussion.

12 During the Literature Study When introducing a lesson or book that deals with cultural issues, the teacher should have an activity that sparks the children’s interest. During reading the students should try to understand the context of the characters actions. The book should help them understand the world of the characters and see this world from their perspective. Students should be able to consider that the motives and reactions of the characters may be different from their own.

13 During the Literature Study The students should be given an opportunity to reflect on what they have read and react to it. A teacher may want to give an opportunity for journal entries before a discussion is started in order for the students to adequately reflect on the story. The teacher must be actively involved in the discussion and act as a moderator of the discussion. The teacher’s involvement should encourage critical thinking and enhance the children’s understanding of the story and the themes depicted in the story.

14 Example Literature Study  Compare different folktales from around the world that have similar themes in order to develop the students’ understanding of the differences and similarities of different cultures.  For example, have the students read a 2+ of the hundreds of Cinderella stories that exist, then compare and contrast the stories.  They could use a Venn diagram.  This activity would work well with is Mufaro´s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe (an African story about a man with two daughters and a king who needs to choose a wife)and The Golden Slipper by Darrell Lum(Vietnamese legend). Students can compare these stories to the more widely known version of Cinderella by John Patience.

15 Conclusion It is important for children to understand different points of view, but also to understand the connections between these perspectives and how they affect each other (Pedersen & Kitano, 2006). Since it is not the literature alone, but the experiences created in response to the literature that determine the power of the stories, teachers’ participation in a literature discussion group can intensify their reading experiences (Wan, 2006). It is important for the teachers to make connections to the literature. These connections can then be transmitted to their students and empower them. We all must examine our lives and be more aware of the social injustices in order to put an end to them. At the same time we must embrace the uniqueness and strengths of all.

16 Websites Celebrating Cultural Diversity Through Children's Literature This web site contains links to annotated bibliographies of children's multicultural books appropriate for the elementary grades. Cultural groups currently listed include: African Americans, Chinese Americans, Latino/Hispanic Americans, Japanese Americans, Jewish Americans, Native Americans, and Korean Americans. Books are categorized by genre: realistic fiction, information (non-fiction), traditional literature, biography, historical fiction, poetry, and fantasy. The recommended books are also linked to Amazon.com. The site also has links to websites about each culture.

17 Websites Five Standards for Effective Pedagogy. Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence (CREDE) created a list of The Five Standards articulate both philosophical and pragmatic guidelines for effective education. The standards were derived by educational researchers working with students at risk of educational failure due to cultural, language, racial, geographic, or economic factors. This would be a great site for teachers. Knowledge Loom. The site for educators has information on elementary literacy that includes practices, suggestions, and success stories. Among these topics it also presents principles, stories, and online resources to support culturally responsive teaching in schools and districts.

18 Websites New Horizons. A site for educators that provides information on researched and widely implemented methods of helping all students to learn more successfully. It includes many articles on a variety of topics related to education.http://www.newhorizons.org/ Notable Books for a Global Society. lit/proj/nbgs/intro-nbgs.html This site would be great for anyone looking for books promoting multiculturalism. The website lists outstanding trade books for enhancing student understanding of people and cultures throughout the world. Winning titles include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry written for students in grades K-12. lit/proj/nbgs/intro-nbgs.html

19 Websites Scholastic. p?id=3757 A great site for teachers, students, and parents. In addition to information about books and authors, it has fun activities and links for students. The site has resources for teachers including articles about how to choose multicultural literature. p?id=3757

20 Print References Callins, T. (2006).Culturally responsive literacy instruction. Teaching Exceptional Children, 39, This article for educators addressed the instructional practices with regard to helping the reading skills of culturally and linguistically diverse learners. Colby, S. & Lyon, A. (2004). Heightening awareness about the importance of using multicultural literature. Multicultural Education, 11, This article attempted to create awareness among teachers of important role multicultural literature. Louie, B. (2006). Guiding principles for teaching multicultural literature. The Reading Teacher, 59, The article offers guidelines for teaching multicultural literature. It uses variations of the story of Mulan to show instructional strategies.

21 Print References Pedersen, K. & Kitanom M. (2006). Multicultural literature unit for gifted learners. Gifted Child Today, 29, This article for educators focuses on enhancing students’ knowledge, skills, and coping strategies through literature activities. Wan, G. (2006).Teaching diversity and tolerance in the classroom: A thematic storybook approach. Education, 127, This article for educators points out the importance of addressing tolerance and differences in our schools. It also shows how the thematic approach can be used to enhance children’s awareness of diversity and similarities among cultures.


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