The Missouri Reader Vol. 40, Issue 3 - Page 32

to build a classroom community that celebrates equality and accepts each other’s similarities and differences through honest and socially engaged conversations about the role of all students in society.

The book selection should challenge not only the students’ perspectives regarding multicultural views and experiences, but it should also challenge their reading comprehension strategies, writing skills, ability to analyze words, and their knowledge of literary genres. Multicultural literature is a tool to help students to become engaged with the reading process by relating themselves to strong positive diverse characters. Students should feel valued…because they matter. Some teachers argue that the very inclusive nature of multicultural literature may lead to excluding the dominant cultures. This is not true when all cultures are represented and celebrated in the classroom. This should be part of the classroom culture. When I asked my principal for an inspirational suggestion for my first year of teaching, she told me that teachers can set the tone for the classroom, and they influence the culture of the classroom (J. Bagwell, Personal Communication, August 2015). I learned from my principal, students, and their families how an inclusive environment has such a strong influence on student learning. My students felt safe to try and to make mistakes. They know that it is part of the learning process. My first grade class knows that they complete each other and that I will be there to help them and ensure that they will always be respected. It was beautiful to see how proud the students were when their parents visited the classroom. My relationship with my students’ parents is one of mutual respect. I believe this takes place because of the inclusive nature of our classroom. My classroom was chosen as one of the most inclusive classrooms within the district due to the use of multicultural education, but most importantly due to the globally-minded group of first graders that I am honored to guide. One of my students told me, “Mrs. Hawkins, at the beginning of the year I thought it would be a normal school year. I did not expected to be chosen as one of the most inclusive classrooms in the district.” I know that these learning experiences will last for a lifetime.

Some multicultural books that will provide your students with engaging and heart touching experiences can be founded below. I chose these titles because of both their literary and cultural values. This list introduces books that represent a variety of cultures, such as African American, West African, Mexican, Brazilian, Middle Eastern, Asian, and Native American cultures. With each title, there are suggestions of how to implement that resource in your classroom. Now is time for your students to “celebrate their own cultures and to explore the uniqueness of others” (Colby, & Lyon, 2004, p. 28).

My Top 15 Multicultural Books

Annotated Bibliography

1. Krull, K. (2003). Harvesting hope: The story of Cesar Chavez. San Diego, CA: Harcourt

The book Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez is a valuable resource for the elementary classroom. The author, Kathleen Krull, tells the story of the Latino Civil Rights

leader, starting with Cesar Chavez’s life at Arizona. Before Chavez was age 10, every Sunday, Chavez’s family had a fiesta party in which the elderly would tell stories about life in Mexico. After Chavez turned 10, poverty and sadness took place in his life. Cesar’s family lost their home and had to move, seeking for work—they became migrant workers. This

book shows the struggles of the migrant workers’ lifestyle. It portrays children who worked in the fields for very little pay. It also depicts the prejudice towards the Spanish language when one of his teachers humiliated him for speaking Spanish. She hung a sign on him that read, “I am a clown. I speak Spanish.” The book shares about the abuse that migrant workers suffered in the fields. Some of the abused ones were beaten or even murdered. The story closes with Cesar Chavez growing up to be a Civil Rights leader who signed the first contract for farmworkers in American history. This book is a great resource for critical literacy because it tells a non-fiction story that is

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A Student Organized Classroom Library

Brandi Farris