Teacher Education Goes Global
Brenda Dales Module
Course Name: Teaching Children's Literature Across the Early Childhood Curriculum
Module Title: International Children's Literature
Module Description: International literature may contain terms, customs, images, or other sociocultural aspects unfamiliar to some readers in the U.S., and therfore may require additional discussion for in-depth understanding. Early Childhood Education candidates will create Cultural X-Rays, as described by Kathy Short (http://wowlit.org/on-line-publications/stories/storiesi2/5/) to understand their own beliefs, values, and cultural identities. They will investigate ways media defines "average" or "normal." They will then apply this knowledge to a character in a chapter book that is an example of contemporary realistic fiction and discuss whether that character could be described as "average" or "normal." The culminating experience is for students to create a Cultural X-Ray for a character in a picture storybook that is an example of international literature, and to then discuss their understandings of that book. Finally, they will discuss ways to investigate the publishing history of all books that might suggest clues for cultural investigations.
Global Learning Outcomes Addressed: Skill: Uses knowledge, diverse culture frames of reference, and alternative perspectives to think critically and solve problems
Time Required: Three phases are implemented throughout the semester. Each phase is the duration of one or two class periods.
Resources: United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY): http://www.usbby.org/
Module: View Module
Brenda, I really appreciate how you have your pre-service teachers explore their sense of self through the cultural x-rays and then have them do a magazine exploration to teach about sociocultural perspectives, identities, and stereotypes. You are right, you can teach these concepts and implement these activities across all content areas. As a matter of fact, I engage my students in physical education, at the higher ed and K-12 settings, in a magazine exploration to address body issues since students' bodies are on public display in PE. Furthermore,we try to deconstruct socially constructed stereotypes or 'norms' as you stated, which continue to be perpetuated in schools. Great job! Jen Fisette

Brenda, It is a great module for students in teacher education program. I agree with you that every culture has their cultural images, values, and terms/words. These symbols often appear in international children’s books, but the readers may not notice or understand them. Or, they may use their own value of culture to judge them. I liked that you have students examine their own culture, identify cultural images in popular media, and then apply cultural understanding to children’s literature. Good job! (Chia-Ling Kuo)

Brenda, the use of Cultural X Rays is fantastic. This has implications in my field of special education. The concept of average and normal is important to explore. Great job (AL).

Comment from Ruth Oswald: Brenda, I appreciate your definitions of International and Global Literature at the beginning of this module and the links you provide to support and expand upon these definitions. This will be helpful to me since I teach both undergraduate and graduate children's literature courses. Also, thank you for introducing me to "Cultural X-Rays." I'm very familiar with Kathy Short's work, but I had not heard of this activity. What a powerful way to begin developing community in a course through exploration of the students' and instructor's own cultural identities! I like the way you have carefully scaffolded your students' learning through this module as you go from the cultural x-rays to the identification of "normal" or "average" cultural images and then finally have your students apply this understanding to characters in children's literature. This is a superb module from which I plan to borrow :)

I LOVE the "cultural image" activity. I am definitely going to use it in my classes, especially in having students look not only at American magazines but also at magazines from other cultures and, hopefully, derive some understanding from the "norms" that are thus "revealed" and the values that societies place on them. Thanks!

Brenda, As i was reading your module i appreciated the hands on dimensions of the cultural x-ray. Additionally i enjoyed reading about the 'sub-texts' of publishing in other cultures. The annotations of Jack's Kite and other stories were useful for any teacher of children's literature or teacher educator.