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Much More Social Studies Through Children's Literature: A Collaborative Approach

Literacy instruction in multicultural settings. Banks , J. An introduction to multicultural education. Fox , D. Stories matter: The complexity of cultural authenticity in children's literature. Anti-bias education is said to go further than simply race and ethnicity studies and includes gender, language, religious diversity, sexual orientation, physical and mental abilities, and economic class. Anti-bias education takes a critical literacy approach, which is an active, problem-solving approach that is integrated into all aspects of an existing curriculum and a school's environment.

An anti-bias curriculum promotes an understanding of social problems and provides students with strategies for improving social conditions Derman-Sparks and the A. Task Force, Children's Literature: Specific books that are written for children as the main target audience.

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Deals with issues that children may face, can relate to, and identify with, and it reflects children's experiences. Usually has characters that are children, but it may also have animals, inanimate objects, fantastical creatures, and adults. These come in a variety of genres, like picture books, poetry, traditional tales, historical fiction, realistic fiction, science fiction, and so on, the most popular of which are picture books.

Although there are several ways to define critical literacy depending on the approach one takes or the field in which it is used, the theoretical basis for this term is founded on Paulo Freire's pedagogy. In the United States, the term is embedded in critical pedagogy and can be traced back to Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed , in which he calls for a pedagogy that empowers people to take action against oppression mainly by larger entities such as politics, government, and society. The term has also evolved to include the ways in which language is a social construct that is used culturally to control, manipulate, and limit.

One has to critically analyze the texts in their broadest sense produced through language in order to comprehend and understand these in their contexts. It draws its theoretical bases from multicultural education based on the concepts of equity in education as explained by Banks and Banks a, b and Banks In fact, Irvine and Armento make no distinction between multicultural pedagogy and culturally responsive pedagogy p.

Cultural Pluralism: When many distinct but smaller cultural groups coexist within a larger society and maintain their unique identities. Cultural pluralism grew out of this view. Popularized by Ladson-Billings , , , a, b , this term has been used in relation to mainly African American students and teachers who use this pedagogy for successful teaching and learning practices for African American students. Foster , and Byrd, Lundeberg, Hoffland, Couillard, and Lee also use this term specifically in terms of African American students and teachers who practice successful methods.

Ladson-Billings , , a, b explains that there are three main points that culturally relevant teaching [Page ] emphasizes. These are academic achievement for all students, cultural competence, and critical consciousness or social political consciousness. Studies that use the term relevant are based on successful teachers and teaching of African American students and emphasize the importance of making teaching culturally relevant for students; however, they do not identify it as exclusively for African Americans.

Studies that use the term responsive emphasize care and sensitivity to students' cultural difference and diversity. This approach is very different from improvisation, role-play, or creative dramatics, as there are no formal or informal presentations, performances, or practice. Rather it uses teaching principles that encourage students to think from within a situation. Historical Fiction: Very similar to realistic fiction, except that it is set in an actual time period before the present time.

As it is set in an actual past time period, the story must adhere to what happened historically during that time.

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However, the characters and situations could be fictional. Extensive research into the accurate portrayal of the time period is essential to this genre. This genre was specifically generated as a means to teach children history and historical facts in an interesting and engaging manner. Therefore, most protagonists are children and the stories are told from a child's perspective.

Historical fiction is sometimes controversial in that it may bring up issues that were previously ignored or glossed over for children. The Newbery award may also be given for historical fiction. Modern Fantasy: Children's books that have a few fantastical elements but the characters, time period, setting, and story are contemporary and realistic. Modern fantasy can further be divided into high fantasy and low fantasy depending on the amount of fantastical elements the story uses.

High fantasy takes place in a secondary created world whereas low fantasy takes place in the recognizable world of every day but with some quirky differences. Multicultural Children's Literature: Books that represent the sociocultural experiences of previously underrepresented groups of people. Books whose themes, language, characters, illustrations, and content validate these groups' experiences, including those experiences occurring because of differences in language, race, gender, class, ethnicity, identity, religion, and sexual orientation.

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There are two common approaches to Multicultural Children's Literature: the race and ethnicity approach and the sociocultural experiences approach. In this book, we take [Page ] the sociocultural experiences approach. Some experts also include international literature under this category. Picture Books: Often considered the main genre of children's books, over the years these have evolved into complex art works that sometimes may stand alone as pieces of art.

Although it is rather hard to define a picture book, a simple explanation could be any book that has pictures and may have text in which the pictures and text contribute to the comprehension of the story. Neither the pictures nor the text alone could tell the story; rather they must blend together to form meaning. The unique thing about this genre is that the content could be of any other genre, that is, it could be realistic, historical, biographical, informational, or traditional, or it may be poetry, a fantasy tale, or even a graphic book a throwback to the comic books of old times, except it is done through graphics.

The Caldecott award is given each year to an exemplary illustrator of children's books. Poetry: Any verse that is written with an emotional touch to it. It may include rhyme, rhythm, vivid imagery, differences in perspectives, insights, and so on. Over the years, poetry for children has evolved from simple rhymes to deep symbolic phrases that include music, art, and drama.


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Since , the National Council for Teachers of English gives the Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, an award to a children's author who writes poetry for children. Currently, these awards are given every other year. Reader-Response Theories: The branch of literary theory that concentrates primarily on readers and their experiences rather than the text, the author, or the content of the work.

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Rosenblatt is credited with being one of the first to say that the meaning a text has depends primarily on the reader and the transaction that the reader has with the text, and not on the author or on the text. This was a radical view, because for the first time the reader was an active agent who imparted meaning to the text.

This meant that the meaning of a text was not fixed by the author's intention or the words in the text; rather it can change with each reader. Over the course of the 20th century, especially in the latter decades, reader-response theories concentrated on various aspects of the readers' experiences as they played out in terms of readers' life experiences and their stances, including sociocultural aspects such as gender, race, class, and so on. Over the last several decades, reader-response techniques have become very useful in helping teachers create constructive classrooms.

Reader responses allow teachers to help students become part of the dynamic process of experiencing reading through connections, hypothesizing, explorations, and so on. Most importantly, reader response allows students to become active learners, bringing their own cultural interpretations to the reading and thereby helping them understand other cultural positions in the readings. The setting and plot are also realistic, recognizable as if it could happen or is happening in a current time period.

There are no exaggerations, fantasy, animal talk, or anything that is out of the ordinary or outside the realm of reality. This genre is different from biographies in that the stories are fictional. Each year, since , the Newbery award is given to an author who writes exemplary realistic fiction. Science Fiction: This is a subcategory of fantasy; however, the major distinction is that it is inspired by the possible theoretical and scientific concepts that are not practically possible today but may be possible in the future. Traditional Tales or Traditional Literature: This is the body of stories and poems that came to us by oral transmission and whose authors are unknown.

Traditional stories and poems had to have clear structures, plots, rhymes, or rhythms to be remembered and invite participation. With no system of recording but the human memory, traditional literature had to be memorable, so it relied on catchy patterns of plot and language. Folktales and fairy tales are the best known forms of traditional tales, although there are others such as legends, myths, fables, epics, and so on. Equity pedagogy: An essential component of multicultural education. Theory Into Practice , 34 3 , — Handbook of research on multicultural education.

New York : Macmillan. Byrd , J. Caring, cognition, and cultural pluralism: Case studies of urban teachers. Urban Education , 31 4 , — Derman-Sparks , L. Task Force. Anti-bias curriculum: Tools for empowering young children. Erickson , F. Qualitative methods in research on teaching. Wittrock Ed. Foster , M. African American teachers and culturally relevant pedagogy. Banks Eds. Black teachers on teaching. New York : The New Press. Freire , P. Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York : Continuum Publishing.


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