From the mouths of babes: A study of four African American second-graders reading and responding to culturally relevant literature

Darrel Steward-Hoagland, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

Many African American children bring a communicative style and cultural world view, a cognitive-linguistic orientation, to the classroom. This research, designed to highlight aspects of that cognitive linguistic orientation to help nurture African American success in school, was the study of four African American second-graders reading and responding to culturally relevant literature in an adult led literature discussion group. This study was done within the constructivist theoretical paradigm using a grounded theory research strategy that included three phases of coding: open, axial, and selective coding. These findings were derived from the data. (1) The African American children in this study responded well in the classroom where a teacher used external social controls of compliments, positive reinforcement, kindness, and warm verbal prompts to motivate students. (2) The sociocentric nature of the African American children in this study and the social nature of literacy highlighted the need for group work and strong relationships to facilitate teaching and learning. (3) The African American children in this study had difficulties achieving reading proficiency. (4) The African American children in this study had difficulties mastering Standard English. (5) The African American children in this study were attracted to and engaged by literature containing rhythms and musicalities. (6) The African American children in this study had a very strong social sense. (7) Spirituality was a hallmark of the African American cognitive linguistic orientation and world view. (8) The ancient African tradition of listening to and telling stories maintained its cultural continuity. (9) The high level of conversation indicated a high level of engagement.

Subject Area

Elementary education|Black studies|Ethnic studies|African American Studies

Recommended Citation

Steward-Hoagland, Darrel, "From the mouths of babes: A study of four African American second-graders reading and responding to culturally relevant literature" (2005). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3168047.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3168047

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