What is Culturally Relevant Teaching?
Gay (2000) defines culturally responsive teaching as teaching that connects students' cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and performance styles to make learning more appropriate and effective for them; it teaches to and through the strengthes of these students.
Culturally responsive teaching has the following characteristics:
Gay, G. (2000). Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research, & Practice. New York: Teachers College Press
This rubric developed by the ReadWriteThink website encourages students to analyze the text they have just read, or heard, and to make personal connections to its content.
Gathering Evidence of Cultural Relevance is a template suited to middle and high schoolers that helps them to reflect upon their reading and the relevancy it has in the reader's life.
The list below provides suggestion for using culturally diverse texts in the classroom. Texts such as those listed help students to understand who they are and where they come from because they connect with the students' lives. I am also including a Culturally Relevant Rubric that will help students to connect the story to their lives.
Please remember, I have not read all of these books myself. Always preview a text before sharing it with students.
Tejos Star Reading List - A list of award winning culturally relevent books.
I Love Saturdays y Domingos by Alma Flor Ada
Pepita Talks Twice/ Pepita habla dos veces by Ofelia Dumas Lachtman - this book touches on an important conflict that many young bilinguals face.
Big Bushy Mustache by Gary Soto
My Family/ En Mi Familia by Carmen Lomas Garza
La Tortillería / The Tortilla Factory by Gary Paulsen
A Place the Sea Remembers by Sandra Benítez
Abuelita's Heart by Amy Cordova
Bitter Grounds by Sandra Benítez - a novel about life on a coffee plantation
Friends from the Other Side: Amigos del otro lado by Gloria Anzaldua
The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child by Franciso Jimenez - Young Adult
Breaking Through by Francisco Jimenez
Amelia's Road by Linda Jacobs Altman
La mariposa by Franciso Jimenez
Buried Onions by Gary Soto
Parrot in the Oven by Victor Martinez (suitable for middle school and above)
Cultural Twists on Old Favorites
The Three Pigs: Los tres credos, Nacho, Tito, and Miguel by Bobby Salinas
Social Change and Justice
¡Sí, se puede! Yes, We Can by Diana Cohn
Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull
Newsela.com - An amazing source of expository texts that can be easily differentiated. Suitable for grades 4 and up. Many of the articles are even available in SPANISH!
Articles for Teachers
Developing Literacy through Culturally Relevant Texts by Iliana Alanís
Culturally Relevant Books in the ELL Classroom by David Freeman and Yvonne Freeman
Culturally Responsive Literacy Instruction by Tandria Collins