This semester I’m taking a methods course in literacy. One of my many texts to read is “Reading Instruction for Diverse Classrooms:”.
In my readings, the author McIntyre mentions how there are some standards that educators agree that are helpful when reaching out to diverse populations, called culturally responsive instruction (CRI). In this pedagogy practice, the “teacher-student and student-student interactions are a vital part of instruction”. One of the themes from the CRI is connecting the curriculum to students’ backgrounds (by finding out what students know and are interested in and using that knowledge to develop new understandings)(McIntyre, 2011, 9). Therefore, we can connect to our students better if we are using texts and readings that have meaning to them outside of the classroom. I know most people can understand this concept, especially if you have any experience reading a text that you did not enjoy at school. Oftentimes we don’t enjoy reading books when we don’t have any connection to the content or characters. Likewise, the books that we enjoy we often can relate to!
Later in the book, chapter 4, it mentioned how books that teachers use and display in their classroom are powerful forms of propaganda. What books you chose to read or have available show what you as the teacher deem as important or worthy to learn about. Therefore, it is important that teachers make sure they make their “classroom libraries more inclusive by representing the diversity of the classroom and our society” (McIntyre, 2011, 60-61).
Last semester in my Social Studies Methods course I was challenged to create a product about Diversity & Cultural Awareness about different topics. I created a Prezi analyzing how diverse princess literature is, and if you’re interested in seeing what I found you can click this link to my Prezi I created.
These books that I found and included in my analysis were found at public libraries. I found online later a few other princess stories that were much more diverse, including (but not limited to):
- Thailand – Kao and the Golden Fish
- Nigeria – Chinye: A West African Folk Tale
- Poland – Raisel’s Riddle
All these were variations of the Cinderella story (Mascarenhas, 2014, 1).
Although it was not an abundance of books, the fact that it was relatively easy to find these books online but not in a public library makes me wonder if the search engines could be designed better to assist people in finding these books. Or, are these books even available in a library? Some libraries might have modern books such as Princess Grace, but others might not invest the money into supplying copies of Cinderella from all the different countries in the world. Therefore, I am now interested in investigating elementary school libraries in the future to see how diverse the book selections are for students.
It is so important to provide children with literature that is positive and connected to them. However, I see it also very important to include books in my classroom that will help open their eyes to topics they haven’t been exposed to (that is age and content appropriate). I am starting to collect some books to have available to students or read to them in class.
Do you have any suggestions for books that are or are not the best books for classrooms (can be specifically for any kids from K-5 or just in general)? I’ve love to have your comments below as I am always searching for new books to read to children and add to my collection as a future teacher 🙂
Mascarenhas, Hyacinth. “What the Story of Cinderella Looks Like in 9 Countries Around the World.” World.MIC. World MIC, 3 June 2014. Web. 9 Nov. 2015.
Photo taken by Arielle Boland of the Following Books