Using African American Children's Literature to Support the Literacy Development of Three and Four Year Olds
Sampson, Candice Marie
When contemplating which Capstone experience to select, I chose to look at which product would be most beneficial for me upon completion of my degree. As a graduate candidate who plans to immediately return to the classroom as a pre-school or pre-kindergarten teacher before opening an independent early care and education center, I felt the project would best serve my interest as it would result in the creation of a product for classroom use. This project contains four parts: a literature review, a set of interactive read-aloud lesson plans, literature-based activities, and other suggested titles. LITERATURE REVIEW: Widely discussed in the field of education is the achievement gap of African American students. Several scholars have suggested that students require instruction and curriculum that takes into account and connects to their cultural differences. One such theory is that of culturally relevant pedagogy. The literature review, an attempt to provide theory and research to support those learners, provides an overview of culturally relevant pedagogy and an in-depth look at African American children's literature, a form of culturally relevant teaching. It concludes with a brief discussion of interactive read-alouds to provide a model/framework for curriculum planning and instruction. SELECTION CRITERIA: Using Hefflin and Barksdale (2001) as a reference, two selection criteria scales were created. These scales, High Quality Picture Book and High Quality African American Children's Literature, were used to evaluate "Just Right Stew" for use as a high quality piece of African American children's literature. Collectively, the scales require the reviewer to look at features such as character and their portrayal, plot, language,its use, theme, illustrations, its authenticity, and cultural accuracy. Their inclusion in this writing serves as an example of the process that should be used to select texts appropriate for the target audience, in this case, three and four year old preschool children. INTERACTIVE READ-ALOUDS: The set of interactive read-alouds contained in this project function as an example of the curriculum one can plan using African American children's literature. In order for these to be effectively used, teachers must promote and maintain a classroom environment that supports open dialogue. No student should feel ashamed or embarrassed for participating in the conversational exchange that is characteristic of interactive read-alouds. Student thought must be encouraged and nurtured. LITERATURE-BASED ACTIVITIES: This section of the project offers various activities that can be used to extend the literature across multiple subject areas. These suggested activities include outlines that contain connections to TN Early learning standards, as well as assessment ideas. By listing materials and instructions for the teacher, educators have an idea of the type of learning context suitable for the listed activities. SUGGESTED TITLES: The final section contains an annotated bibliography of other titles related to families and traditions. These may be used in conjunction with "Just Right Stew" in a unit on families. Included in the list is an anthology of poems, a book suitable for beginning and/or young readers, and other texts for classroom read-alouds.