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Paving the Way to Global Citizenship with Diverse Books in the Classroom

Classrooms can be a melting pot of cultures, with students from backgrounds and beliefs of all kinds coming together to learn. For educators to be effective in teaching and building relationships with all of their students, they must learn how to become culturally responsive in the classroom.

A culturally responsive educator empowers ethnically and linguistically diverse students by building a strong and trusting relationship with them that can develop students’ confidence and self-esteem. By focusing on the social-emotional wellbeing of students from all backgrounds, the entire class is more likely to be successful academically and feel a sense of community with their classmates.

An important step to fostering a culturally responsive classroom environment is to incorporate diverse literature into pre-existing lessons. Diverse books are stories with a protagonist from an underrepresented community. Some examples of diversity in books can be seen through varying ethnicities, abilities, religions, cultures, or genders.

Read on to discover six benefits of including diverse books in the classroom and how this can pave the way to global citizenship through the ten global competencies. Diverse books:

1. Increase empathy

Diverse books build empathy within students because when they see varying identities and ways of thought, they are more likely to pause and think critically about why people act or feel certain ways. It also helps them to learn how to be nonjudgmental about ideas that are unfamiliar to them.

Developing empathy contributes more than simply promoting thoughts without judgment; it also develops effective and appropriate communication. When students seek to understand other perspectives through listening, they are more likely to be able to navigate cultural norms and make sure that all people are understood.

2. Foster one’s understanding of themselves

Incorporating diverse books into the classroom shows students more about others, but it can also teach them more about themselves. Self-awareness is a key component of global citizenship because it requires people to hold themselves accountable for their attitudes and actions. By questioning why you feel a certain way and what influenced these feelings, you learn more about yourself and push yourself to learn more about the world around you.

3. Develop respect for others

Global citizens not only recognize diversity, but they value it! By reading and really diving into ways of thought and life in other cultures, students gain an appreciation and respect for differences. It’s important to emphasize in the classroom the value of unique identities because this encourages students to develop relationships with people who aren’t exactly like them. We all have something to learn from people with different experiences than our own.

4. Offer new perspectives for all students

Diverse books can offer new perspectives because students see different types of people in the role of the protagonist in a story, which is especially important when talking about race in the classroom. When students see themselves and their classmates in new roles in a story, it sparks their curiosity about what’s happening beyond their backyard.

Students will have a genuine desire to learn about and experience the world. This can fuel their sense of a global connection. Global citizens feel more interconnected with other parts of the world, which makes them want to take responsibility for making the world a better place. They are more likely to see themselves as the change-makers and future leaders that they are.

5. Provide a different lens to view history

Textbooks are often only written from one historical perspective, which makes it hard for students to understand how various events in history impacted different people. By incorporating diverse books alongside textbooks, students are able to develop critical thinking skills by questioning their assumptions and digging deeper.

This skill helps students use evidence to support their ways of thinking. New perspectives in books can also teach students to be more flexible by changing their course when provided with information that differs from their expectations.

6. Increase the likelihood that students will show interest in social justice

Diverse books build intercultural knowledge by teaching students that people are shaped by their circumstances and cultural influences. This awareness contributes to their ability to understand issues by seeking out accurate and objective information about problems that impact people worldwide. When students feel educated on topics and connected to those globally, they are more likely to fight for causes that are important to them.

For more information on how you can incorporate diverse books in the classroom along with book suggestions to get started, check out this presentation from the United We Teach Summit by our very own ambassador teacher, Vanessa Arellanou. To discover more about global citizenship, visit our website or contact us directly for more information.