Bridging the Gap
Reading takes us to faraway places and allows us to experience life through a character’s eyes. Sometimes we are on a daring adventure to give a golden ring back to its rightful owner. Other times we are taking down giants who like to eat children. Literature has a knack for putting us in the driver’s seat of a vehicle that we would never ride in in real life.
Some people contend that travel is the only way to truly learn to respect other cultures, but reading also gives us this opportunity.
Most teachers in the US today are middle class Caucasian females. This is not a detriment, but it does mean that they are typically viewing the world through the lens that they are most accustomed to. In order to push past our own idea of “normal” and to truly reach the diverse children that make up our world we must be able to bridge the gap between our cultures. A simple awareness to biases just isn’t enough. Teachers must reach out appropriately linguistically, culturally, and respectfully, but how?
“So many things are possible as long as you don't know they are impossible.”
–Mildred D. Taylor
The beauty of a book, and especially Mildred D. Taylor books is that they help us to bridge that gap. Not only are we embarking on an academic journey of discovery, but we are learning about cultures that may connect us all. The Logan family (who star in all of Taylor’s books) is relatable and give readers a connection to the characters. Whether the reader is a boy, girl, or parent, there is a relatable quality to the characters both individually and as a whole. Everyone has a family unit of some kind, whether it is traditional or not. They are able to empathize and feel for the Logan family which opens a door to learning about their culture. This is how we bridge the gap and elaborate on the themes and lessons that are brought to light in these books.
Optional Resource for Further Study
- 50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know by Kathleen T. Horning, Carling Febry, Merri T. LIndgren and Megan Schliesman
- The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow Narratives by PBS
- Exploring Cultural Identity Through Literature by Janine M. Schall
- Books for Teaching About Cultural Diversity by Genia Connell for Scholastic
- Great Websites for Kids Cultures of the World by the Association for Library Service to Children