I teach first grade in a title one school. In my classroom I have 9 ESL students and multiple countries represented. 59% of the students at my school qualify for free and reduced lunch. 59% of the students speak a language other than English in their home.
Many of my students are first or second generation in the US and don't understand how they can play a role in the community. Because they don't see themselves as part of the community they don't understand the need for an education. Some of my students have come to the US to escape persecution, others for migrant work, and others to be reunited with family members. Many of the books in the school library show the 'typical' American family. The 'typical' American family is not representative of my class. My students need to see that they have value and a greater role in our society.
Having multi-cultural books will allow students to see a new view of cultural diversity. The books that I have chosen will open the doors to communication that will celebrate the diversity in my classroom as well as enable us to discuss our roles in society. They will provide my students opportunities to see that their worries and frustrations of not fitting in are valid and they will see how the children in the books were able to overcome their fears and worries.
It is difficult to see many of my students feel that they are not part of the society because they are not represented in literature. Providing these books for my students will help them to begin to see that they are a part of the community and that their cultures are valuable. Through seeing their cultures in literature they will become more motivated to receive a college education and become successful citizens.
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