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Using Multicultural Literature for Literacy Instruction

A professional development presentation to increase stakeholders' knowledge of using multicultural literacy to improve literacy instruction for students of diverse backgrounds.

Lindsey Oxley

on 27 July 2013

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Transcript of Using Multicultural Literature for Literacy Instruction

Using Multicultural Literature for Literacy Instruction
prepared by
Lindsey Oxley
What cultures do you see present in your classroom?

What cultures do you see represented in your classroom literature?
Are all cultures represented?
Louie (2005) quotes Mestre and Scott (1997) to define multicultural literature as books that demonstrate the “diverse life experiences, traditions, histories, values, world-views, and perspectives of the diverse cultural groups that make up a society” (p. 566).
What is Multicultural Literature?
Why is it important?
When young children see themselves in the literature, who they are and where they come from is validated and seen as important (Bieger 1995; Colby & Lyon, 2004; De Leon, 2002; Purnell et al., 2007).

Students feel “emotionally secure when they find themselves, and those they love, positively reflected in curriculum materials” (Purnell et al., 2007, p. 424).
When literature mirrors students’ perceptions of themselves, they are more emotionally connected and interested.
"When children are not able to find themselves or their lives reflected in classroom literature, they are less engaged and interested in the reading process” (Colby & Lyon, 2004, p. 26).

Bieger (1995) writes that “people who find their own life experiences mirrored in books receive affirmation of themselves and their culture” (p. 309).
Hinton (2004) writes of her personal experiences of first reading multicultural literature - “Seeing myself in the literature made an indelible impression on me…I realized that regardless of my socioeconomic status, my race, or my gender, I have a place in this world and the potential to make a positive contribution to society” (p. 285).
Craft Al-hazza and Bucher (2008) write that “by building a sense of cultural identity and self-esteem, especially within a cultural group, individuals are able to take on more responsibility, try harder and work longer, and perform at a higher academic level than those who do not see themselves in a positive light” (p. 210).
socioeconomic status
sexual orientation

Creating Third Space
Moje et al. (2004) report “this integration of knowledges and Discourses drawn from different spaces the construction of ‘third space’ that merges the ‘first space’ of people’s home, community, and peer networks with the ‘second’ space’ of the Discourses they enter in more formalized institutions such as work, school, or church” (as cited in de la Piedra, 2010, p. 576).
A third space creates a safe comfortable environment that incorporates students' home culture and school culture.
Creating Third Space

home & standard languages used TOGETHER

multiple cultures and viewpoints pieced together to create a whole picture

home language

home culture

home viewpoints

formal language

mainstream culture

mainstream viewpoints

Jewett (2011) writes that “in searching for an understanding of their personal cultural identities, children were able to move between their home lives, the literature we read, digital resources, and their content-area learning. They made connections among many parts of their lives inside school and outside the classroom walls” (p. 28).

Kim, Green and Klein (2006) write that “home-school collaboration is central to children’s development of a positive sense of identity that incorporates their home culture and values with the new socialization that they have experienced at school” (p. 226-227).
With your study group, brainstorm short term goals to create third space in your classroom.
ex. Administer student and family surveys to gain knowledge about students' home cultures.

What long term goals could you set to create third space in your classroom?
ex. Establish family book clubs to incorporate families' cultures and encourage reading at home.
Criteria for Choosing Multicultural Literature
The literature should be pertinent to students and they should be able to link the literature to their daily lives (Levin, 2007; Colby & Lyon, 2004).

Books need to be carefully selected so that students “not only find characters to identify with, but that they can relate to situations found in the books they are asked to read” (Colby & Lyon, 2004, p. 26).
Criteria for Choosing Multicultural Literature
Multicultural literature often focuses on “superficial aspects of culture like festivals, food, native dress, holidays, and famous people” (Levin, 2007, p. 101).

Instead, literature should be used to investigate “the ever-changing values, traditions, social and political relationships, and worldview created, shared, and transformed by a group of people bound together by a combination of factors that can include common history, geographic location, language, social class, and religion” (Nieto, 2009, p. 136).
Criteria for Choosing Multicultural Literature
Books should be chosen that authentically represent characters, situations and setting from other cultures (Hillard, 1995; Louie, 2006).

Levin (2007) writes that “culturally rich literature should provide a realistic view of the lives of various groups of people, without any bias or stereotypes” (p. 101).

Using erroneous multicultural literature may actually be more harmful than not including any multicultural literature at all (Hillard, 1995).
Example of Quality Multicultural Literature
"Esperanza Rising" by Pam Munoz Ryan
"Esperanza Rising" Book Talk
What makes "Esperanza Rising" quality multicultural literature?
The historical event is told from the viewpoint of a young Mexican girl.
The author incorporates the Spanish language throughout the novel.
The author incorporates Mexican traditions and practices throughout the novel.
The Mexican culture is presented without biases or stereotypes.
Authentic Multicultural Literature Checklist
Select a text that reflects a culture found in your classroom. Using the Authentic Multicultural Literature Checklist, does the text qualify as
quality multicultural literature

Share and discuss your qualifying literature with your study group.

Conduct student interest and attitude surveys.

Establish collaboration with families and the community.
Determine quality of literature using the Authentic Multicultural Literature Checklist.
Monitor and collect data regarding students' motivation and reading comprehension using multicultural literature texts.
Assessment and Evaluation
How are you currently incorporating multicultural literature into your classroom?

What short term goals do you have for incorporating multicultural literature into your classroom?

What long term goals do you have for incorporating multicultural literature into your classroom?
How are you currently incorporating multicultural literature into your classroom?

What short term goals do you have for incorporating multicultural literature into your classroom?

What long term goals do you have for incorporating multicultural literature into your classroom?
Discuss your goals with your study group. How can you collaborate as a team to help meet each other's goals?

What short and long term goals for incorporating multicultural literature could you make for the school's literacy program?
First Space
Second Space
Third Space

Bieger, E. M. (1995). Promoting multicultural education through a literature-based approach. The Reading Teacher, 49(4), 308-312.

Colby, S. A., & Lyon, A. F. (2004). Heightening awareness about the importance of using multicultural literature. Multicultural Education, 11(3), 24-28.

Craft Al-hazza, T., & Bucher, K.T. (2008). Building Arab Americans' cultural identity and acceptance with children's literature. The Reading Teacher, 62(3), 210-219.

De Leon, L. (2002). Multicultural literature: Reading to develop self-worth. Multicultural Education, 10(2), 49-51.

Hinton, K., & Berry, T. (2004). Literacy, literature, and diversity. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 48(4), 284-288.

Hillard, L. L. (1995). Defining the "multi-" in "multicultural" through children's literature. The Reading Teacher, 48(8), 728-729.

Jewett, P. (2011). Some people do things different from us: Exploring personal and global cultures in a first grade classroom. Journal of Children's Literature, 37(1), 20-29.

Kim, B.S., Greif Green, J. L., & Klein, E.F. (2006). Using storybooks to promote multicultural sensitivity in elementary school children. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 36(4), 223-234.

Levin, F. (2007). Encouraging ethical respect through multicultural literature. The Reading Teacher, 61(1), 101-104.

Louie, B.Y. (2005). Development of empathetic responses with multicultural literature. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 48(7), 566-578.

Nieto, S. (2009). Language, culture, and teaching: Critical perspectives (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Purnell, P. G., Ali, P., Begum, N., & Carter, M. (2007). Windows, bridges and mirrors: Building culturally responsive early childhood classrooms through the integration of literacy and the arts. Early Childhood Education Journal, 34(6), 419-424.
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