This article describes the process of using African American children's literature through culturally relevant pedagogy. It chronicles how two teachers carefully plan a lesson using the literature, and then describes how one of the teachers enacts the lesson using pedagogy relevant to her students' cultural background. A framework that focused on the cultural patterns of the students' lives was used to help guide the planning process. The components of the lesson include a prereading activity, read aloud, group discussion, journal writing, and a follow-up activity. In the end, the teachers found that tailoring instruction to fit the textual, social, cultural, and personal lives of their students is largely about seeing pedagogy through the norms and practices of their students' lives.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Abt-Perkins, D., and Gomez, M. L. (1993). A good place to begin: Examining our personal per-spectives. Language Arts 70: 193–202.
Alvermann, D. E., and Phelps, S. F. (1994). Content Reading and Literacy: Succeeding in Today's Diverse Classroom. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Armento, B. (2001). Principles of a culturally responsive curriculum. In J. Irvine & B. Armento (Eds.), Culturally Responsive Teaching: Lesson Planning for Elementary and Middle Grades (pp. 18–33). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Au, K. H. (1997). Ownership, literacy achievement, and students of diverse cultural backrgounds. In J. T. Guthrie and A. Wigfield (Eds.), Reading Engagement: Motivating Readers Through Integrated Instruction (pp. 168–182). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
Au, K. H., and Mason, J. M. (1983). Cultural congruence in classroom participation structures: Achieving a balance of rights. Discourse Processes 6: 145–167.
Banks, J. A. (1991). Teaching Strategies for Ethnic Studies (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Blake, B. E. (1998). “Critical” reader response in an urban classroom: Creating cultural texts to engage diverse readers. Theory into Practice 37: 238–243.
Bullivant, B. M. (1989). Culture: It's nature and meaning for educators. In J. A. Banks and C. A. Banks (Eds.), Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives (pp. 27–45). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Cazden, C. B. (1986). Classroom discourse. In M. C. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Teaching (3rd ed.) (pp. 432–464). New York: Macmillan.
Cramer, R. L. (2001). Creative Power: The Nature and Nurture of Children's Writing. New York: Longman.
Delpit, L. (1988). The silenced dialogue: Power and pedagogy in educating other people's children. Harvard Educational Review 58: 280–298.
Dragonwagon, C. (1990). Home Place. New York: Atheneum.
Eeds, M., and Wells, D. (1989). Grand conversations: An exploration of meaning construction in literature study groups. Research in the Teaching of English 23: 4–29.
Fairbanks, C. M. (1998). Nourishing conversations: Urban adolescents, literacy, and democratic society. Journal of Literacy Research 30: 187–203.
Foster, M. (1995). African American teachers and culturally relevant pedagogy. In J. A. Banks and C. A. McGee Banks (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Multicultural Education (pp. 570–581). New York: Simon & Schuster MacMillian.
Gay, G. (2000). Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice. New York: Teachers College Press.
Goetz, E. T., and Sadoski, M. (1995). The perils of seduction: Distracting details or incomprehensible abstractions? Reading Research Quarterly 30: 500–511.
Grice, M., and Vaughn, C. (1992). Third graders respond to literature for and about Afro-Americans. The Urban Review 24: 149–164.
Harris, J. L., Kamhi, A. G., and Pollock, K. E. (2001). Literacy in African American communities. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Heath, S. B. (1983). Ways with Words: Language, Life and Work in Communities and Classrooms. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Hefflin, B. R. (1996). African american children's literature and its connection to enriching learning. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Hefflin, B. R., and Barksdale-Ladd, M. (2001). African American children's literature that helps students find themselves: Selection guidelines for grades k-3. The Reading Teacher 54: 810–819.
Irvine, J. (2001). The critical elements of culturally responsive pedagogy: A synthesis of the research. In J. Irvine and B. Armento (Eds.), Culturally Responsive Teaching: Lesson Planning for Elementary and Middle Grades (pp. 2–17). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Kiefer, B. Z. (1995). Responding to literature as art in picture books. In N. Roser and M. Martinez (Eds.), Book Talk and Beyond: Children and Teachers Respond to Literature (pp. 191–200). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
Knupfer, A. M. (1995). Conflict resolution or “convict revolution”? The problematics of critical pedagogy in the classroom. Urban Education 30: 219–239.
Ladson-Billings, G. (1994). The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). But that's just good teaching! The case for culturally relevant pedagogy. Theory into Practice 34: 159–165.
Ladson-Billings, G., and Henry, A. (1990). Blurring the borders: Voices of African liberatory pedagogy in the United States and Canada. Boston Journal of Education 172: 72–88.
Moll, L. C., and Greenberg, J. B. (1990). Creating zones of possibilities: Combining social contexts for instruction. In L. C. Moll (Ed.), Vygotsky and Education: Instructional Implications and Applications of Sociohistorical Psychology (pp. 319–348). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Moss, J. F. (1996). Teaching Literature in the Elementary school: A Thematic Approach. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon.
Murphy, B. (1999). Black Authors and Illustrators of Books for Children and Young Adults: A Biographical Dictionary (3rd ed.). New York: Garland.
Nieto, S. (2000). Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education (3rd ed.). New York: Longman.
Osborne, A. B. (1996). Practice into theory into practice: Culturally relevant pedagogy for students we have marginalized and normalized. Anthropology and Education Quarterly 27: 285–314.
Rosenblatt, L. M. (1983). Literature as Exploration (4th ed.). New York: Modern Language Association.
Roser, N. L., and Martinez, M. G. (1995). Book Talk and Beyond: Children and Teachers Respond to Literature. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
Schallert, D. L., and Reed, J. H. (1997). The pull of the text and the process of involvement in reading. In J. T. Guthrie and A. Wigfield (Eds.), Reading Engagement: Motivating Readers Through Integrated Instruction (pp. 68–85). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
Sims Bishop, R. (1987). Extending multicultural understanding through children's books. In B. Cullinan (Ed.), Children's Literature in the Reading Program (pp. 60–67). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
Sims Bishop, R. (1993). Multicultural literature for children: Making informed choices. In V. J. Harris (Ed.), Teaching Multicultural Literature in Grades K–8 (pp. 37–53). Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon.
Sims Bishop, R. (1997). Selecting literature for a multicultural curriculum. In V. J. Harris (Ed.), Using Multiethnic Literature in the K–8 Classroom. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon.
Smith, E. A. (1994). The anchor dat keeps em driftin': The responses of African American fourth and fifth graders to African American literature, (Doctoral dissertation, The Ohio State University, 1993). Dissertation Abstracts International, 54, 2929.
Smith, E. A. (1995). Anchored in our literature: Students responding to African American literature. Language Arts 72: 571–574.
Strickland, D. S. (1994). Educating African American learners at risk: Finding a better way. Language Arts 71: 328–336.
Yarbrough, C. (1979). Cornrows. New York: Coward-McCann.
Yokota, J. (1993). Issues in selecting multicultural children's literature. Language Arts 70: 156–167.
Yopp, R. H., and Yopp, H. K. (2001). Literature-Based Reading Activities (3rd ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Hefflin, B.R. Learning to Develop Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: A Lesson About Cornrowed Lives. The Urban Review 34, 231–250 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1020603323594
- culturally relevant pedagogy
- African American children's literature