Children's Literature: culturally responsive teaching

This weblog is a project for Education 642, Children's written and oral genres, a course for elementary education students at UNBC (Prince George, BC). Its purpose is to provide an opportunity for students to experience how literature "opens up worlds"-- the social, emotional, imaginative, spritual, the cultural and the aesthetic.

Monday, November 21, 2005

In exploring our own inner landscapes and the stories that have shaped and continue to shape us, we illustrate how rich and engaging stories are as powerful tools for learning.

Reaching into our own past experiences can re-awaken the excitement of listening to or the telling of a story: these "encounters" inform our understanding of how children experience the power of literature. It also provides a context for thinking about how we can engage in the best teaching practices possible that will give our students the tools to develop multiple literacies, including both oral and written forms.

It also supports a growing body of scholarship and research that suggests that readers construct their own understandings within texts based on their own experiences, including those languages and texts that they learn at home. Culturally responsive teaching ensures that the connections between home, culture and school are bridged to support literacy development for all.

In this short course, I hope you'll reconnect with your own experiences with your favorite childhood stories; that you'll become more attuned to the power of literature to convey messages to us about our families, our communities, and our beliefs and values; the nature of orality and story telling; and explore the ways in which we can enrich our teaching through the use of many different genres of children's books.

And now for something completely different....

I know some of your are already anxiously thinking about assignments for this course. One of the things you will be able to do ahead of time is to purchase the three children's novels prescribed for this course, and read them over the holidays: no hardship I assure you! These are great stories! Their titles are:


  • Mina's Spring of Amazing Colors: by Rachna Gilmore
  • The River: by Gary Paulsen
  • Night John: by Gary Paulsen

All should be available in the bookstore in short order...

The other assignment you can consider is how you will create your own blog that suggests your own narrative identity... in other words, what stories, poems, tall tales, folk tales, non fiction texts, characters, authors, or other literary artifacts define who you are? What favorite stories can you remember as a child? What books became icons of particular moments in time for you? What authors have made an impression on you? What important story tellers have their been in your life? What children's books have you become recently acquainted with that represent an important way you've begun to think about teaching and learning?

In my next post, I'll let you know about some of my favorite children's books and stories I've enjoyed.