Literacy teachers' enactment of critical pedagogies with multicultural children's literature during interactive read aloud




Vlach, Saba Khan

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This qualitative, multi-case study examines the classroom interactions between three critical elementary teachers and their students during interactive read-aloud events with multicultural children’s literature. For one school year, I observed and video- and audio- recorded these teachers’ read-alouds and literature discussions in order to consider the following three research questions:

  1. How do elementary literacy teachers sustain and grow their enactment of critical pedagogies?
  2. During whole-group discussions of multicultural children’s literature, how do teachers address critical sociocultural knowledge and issues of inequity?
  3. How do teachers who practice critical pedagogy navigate the critical encounters that arise when they discuss multicultural children’s literature? Drawing on Freire’s (1970/2000) theory of critical literacy, Kumashiro’s (2001; 2009) theory of anti-oppressive education, and Brown’s (2013) theory of humanizing critical sociocultural knowledge, my analysis centered on illuminating the ways that Ms. Smith, Ms. Barker, and Ms. Martinez enacted critical pedagogies within this structure of literacy instruction, as well as gaining insight into how these teachers sustained and grew their work as critical educators. I took an ethnographic approach to data collection; and I used qualitative and discourse analytic methods to analyze within and across multiple data sources, including audio- and video-recordings, transcriptions, classroom artifacts (e.g., students’ reader responses, photos of language charts), memos, and field notes. In response to my first research question, I report that these teachers sustained and grew their enactment of critical pedagogies by designing an all-encompassing curriculum of experiences for themselves (Brown, 2013) in both their professional and personal lives, engaging in [social justice] praxis, and pursuing opportunities to learn new critical sociocultural knowledge. In response to my second and third research questions, I report that teachers address critical sociocultural knowledge and navigate critical encounters with their students by: a) reimagining the possibilities of interactive read aloud in the elementary classroom; b) extending talk towards criticality; c) turning discourse back to the students. These three cases demonstrate that teachers can offer rich literacy instruction, as well as intentional, daily space to collaboratively build humanizing critical sociocultural knowledge towards transformation.


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