School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 2

Reading/ELA | Informational | Literary | Writing | Language | Listening | Speaking

Lesson Seeds: The lesson seeds are ideas for the indicator/objective that can be used to build a lesson. Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.

Standard 3.0 Comprehension of Literary Text

Indicator 1. Develop comprehension skills by reading a variety of self-selected and assigned literary texts

Objective a. Listen to, read, and discuss a variety of literary texts representing diverse cultures, perspectives, ethnicities, and time periods

Seed

Begin by examining your classroom library. Think about your student population. Do your books feature main characters who represent the cultures, ethnicities, special needs, gender, and family structures of the students in your class? Are these characters represented in a positive way? Are the adults in the books equally diverse? Are they depicted living and working in a positive way in contemporary settings? Are the literary non-fiction subjects representing this same diversity both in historical and contemporary contexts? If your classroom library is not reflective of your student population then use your media center and public library to boost your collection. If you do not have a diverse student population in your class, you still want to build your library to include other cultures, ethnicities, special needs and family structures. Students benefit from reading about characters from different backgrounds who experience the same types of problems and positively work to solve them. The websites below provide annotated bibliographies of children's books showing diversity to get you started.

Coretta Scott King Book Awards
Pura Belpre Award
Contemporary Immigrant Experiences in Children's Books
Humor in Multicultural Literature
Library Booklists
The International Children's Digital Library (ICDL — University of Maryland)
International Board on Books for Young People
University of Wisconsin — Cooperative Children's Book Center
Children's Books that Break Gender Role Stereotypes
Non-traditional Gender Roles in Picture Books
Multicultural Picture Books
Books for Children Concerning Diseases, Disorders, and Learning Differences
Internet Public Library (Drexel) — Multicultural Literature for Children
School Library Journal

Seed

Use the criteria and resources above when choosing books for read aloud, shared reading, and guided reading experiences. When using materials that are classic tales or older literature you may encounter characters that are stereotyped. If it is appropriate to proceed instructionally with the piece of literature then you should discuss the bias with your students by asking questions such as: How does the author portray this character? What seems unfair? Is this the way people live today? Are there illustrations that are biased? How? Explain to students that stereotyping is when people make a generalization about a particular group of people (cultures, ethnicities, special needs, gender, and family structures). These generalizations are usually negative and can be hurtful to people. This type of thinking can lead people to fear or dislike people they haven't met. Authors write about the world that they live in. Their writing may reflect a way of thinking that existed during their lifetime but would not be appropriate in our modern world where we come into contact and value the contributions of many different kinds of people every day. It may be easier to start this discussion with characterizations of animals in fables and tales that lead to stereotyping (turtle — slow, fox-clever, lion-courageous, mouse-meek, wolf-greedy, etc.).

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