Mainstream and Mexican American-Themed Picture Books and Students’ Responses to Them in a First-Grade Dual-Immersion Classroom

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Mainstream and Mexican American-Themed Picture Books and Students’ Responses to Them in a First-Grade Dual-Immersion Classroom

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2018-11

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The education system in the United States continues to fail bilingual Mexican American students in many ways. To counteract the effects of a subtractive schooling experience (Valenzuela, 1999) for these students, teachers can support the development of literary identities of belonging (Fránquiz, Martínez-Roldán, & Mercado, 2011). The purpose of this study was to investigate the ways in which the texts students read may invite or discourage the development of positive literary identities by contributing to feelings of belonging or alienation. The study had two parts. In Part 1, content analysis was used to analyze a set of 18 award winning Mexican American-themed Spanish language children’s picture books and compare them to a similar number of common, mainstream read aloud texts along several dimensions, including characteristics of the main character, culturally-important themes, and cultural values. In Part 2, students in a dual immersion first grade classroom in California responded to three mainstream and three award winning Mexican American picture books. Data collected in the classroom included written responses and drawings, individual discussions, and surveys of children’s book preferences. Four English Home Language (EHL) students and four Spanish Home Language (SHL) Mexican-origin students also participated in picture walks and small group discussions. Findings for Part 1 indicate that the mainstream texts lacked diversity in terms of main characters’ physical, linguistic, familial, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds. In addition, the mainstream texts hardly ever provided access to culturally important Mexican American content themes such as family strength and community, and they reinforced the culturally incongruent value of individualism. Findings for Part 2 indicate that the cultural content of the texts affected students’ oral and written responses in terms of the students’ willingness or ability to make personal and cultural connections, their feelings of belonging in the stories, and their engagement during discussions and picture walks. Implications from this study are that continual exposure to mainstream books could easily lead minoritized students to disengage from literary tasks. In addition, the study highlights the importance of access to culturally relevant texts in the early elementary grades as a pathway towards the development of positive literary identities in school.

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University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. 2018. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Lori Helman. 1 computer file (PDF); 269 pages.

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Delbridge, Anne. (2018). Mainstream and Mexican American-Themed Picture Books and Students’ Responses to Them in a First-Grade Dual-Immersion Classroom. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/201707.

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