Writing Diverse Stories
Children learn to tell stories at home and in their communities. Culture influences narrative form and stories are often used as a “culture-preserving instrument” (Sapir, 1949). Thus, the stories they write as they enter school reflect and transmit their cultural identity. However, educators often have a pre-defined notion of a good story as the European North American narrative that follows a predictable structure of beginning, middle and end. However, students from diverse cultural groups might tell stories that do not reflect this narrative form. An analysis of the different narrative forms identified that African Americans may tell topic associating stories, Latinos may tell stories that focus on family members and habitual activities and Asian Americans may tell stories that sound like poems. A rationale for a writing unit that includes these text structures is provided. A main conclusion from the research done to develop this unit is that culturally relevant instruction means not just accepting cultural difference, but using this cultural difference in the classroom. This is reflected in the writing unit, Writing Diverse Stories. Future implications include more research into storytelling practices of other cultural groups as well as revising our teaching and assessment to reflect diversity of storytelling.