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Tag Archives: Multicultural

Number the Stars

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

First published 1989

Plot Description: A powerful story set in Nazi occupied Denmark in 1943. Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen is called upon for a selfless act of bravery to help save her best-friend, Ellen, a Jew. The Nazis have occupied Copenhagen and there are food shortages, curfews and the constant threat of being stopped by soldiers and for Annemarie the dangers become even greater when her best-friend’s life become endangered simple because she is a Jew. When the Nazi’s come to take Ellen and her family away to be “relocated”, Ellen is taken in by Annemarie’s parents and suddenly Annemarie’s family are under threat too. Annemarie has to call upon all her resources for courage and bravery as she helps her friend make a daring escape.

Evaluation: Not only does this give a brief introduction to the Holocaust, but it also introduces students to what can happen when the differences between us are feared instead of celebrated.

Quantitative Reading Level: Grades 3-5

Content Area: History/Social Science, ELA

TEKS Subject Standard: SS 3.1A, SS 3.2A, SS 3.3A

Curriculum Lesson Plans:


Ms. Marvel

Ms. Marvel by Willow G. Wilson

Published February 5, 2014

Plot Description: Kamala Khan is just an ordinary girl from Jersey City (who’s constantly having to struggle with the fact that she is short, not white, and Muslim) until she is suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts.  Kamala must come to terms with who she is and discover if that is enough to be the next Ms. Marvel.

Evaluation:  Kamala is one of those girls that feels like she doesn’t quite fit in because she isn’t tall, she isn’t white, and she’s living right around the corner from where the World Trade Center use to stand and she’s Muslim.  Given superpowers that lets her turn into the tall, blonde, beautiful Captain Marvel she thinks is a dream come true until she realizes that trying to be someone else and live up to those expectations is exhausting.  When she finally decides to show the world who she really is, the new Ms. Marvel, they love her for her.  I think Marvel did a powerful thing by creating this young, high school, Muslim, super hero.  We are finally accepting and encouraging young girls of various ethnical backgrounds to accept themselves and showing them that if they just believe in themselves they can do anything.

Quantitative Reading Level: 9-12

Content Area: History/Social Science

TEKS Subject Standard: SS 6.1A, SS 6.1B, SS 6.15A, SS 6.15B, SS 6.15C, SS 6.15D, SS 6.15E, SS 6.15F, SS 6.19B, US.26C

The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Story of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Published September 12, 2007

Plot Description: Based on the authors own personal experiences, this is a blatantly true story of Junior, a budding cartoonist who leaves his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school. This heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written tale, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character’s art chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he seems destined to live.

Evaluation:  One of the most challenged and banned books in schools since its release, The Absolutely True Story of a Part-time Indian not only shows the brutal truth of what it means to be an adolescent high-school boy, but also many of the issues that students have to deal with outside of their school life, such as alcoholism, poverty, fighting, bullying, etc.  Yes, it is set in the environment of an Indian Reservation that almost none of us will ever get to see with our own two eyes, but it also shows students that many of the same issues that struggle with someone else has too.  That they are not alone.

Quantitative Reading Level: Grades 6-12

Content Area: History/Social Science

TEKS Subject Standard: SS 6.1A, SS 6.1B, SS 6.15A, SS 6.15B, SS 6.15C, SS 6.15D, SS 6.15E, SS 6.15F, US.26B, US.26C

The Lotus Seed

Lotus Seed by Sherry Garland

First published April 30, 1993

Plot Description: When she is forced to leave Vietnam, a young girl brings a lotus seed with her to America in remembrance of her homeland. As she ages she always keeps the lotus seed close, a symbol of the past, but one year while her family is visiting her grandson finds the seed and decides to plant it in the back yard.  At first the grandmother is upset, but then realizes that she needs to share her heritage and that of her grandchildren’s with them and shares the lotus flowers that blossom from that one seed with them all.

Evaluation:  The Lotus Seed begins with the fall of Saigon and is a good book to not only talk about the historical aspect of the Vietnamese people and the struggles that occurred before and after, but the culture and significance that is the lotus and why it meant to much the girl/grandmother in the story.  Use the book to discuss that every culture has their own symbols of importance and what they might be to each of those different cultures within the school.

Quantitative Reading Level: Grades K-4

Content Area: History/Social Science

TEKS Subject Standard: SS K.12A, SS K.12B, SS 1.15A

Cloud Tea Monkeys

Cloud Tea Monkeys by Mal Peet

Published February 1, 2010

Plot Description: Tashi lives in a tiny village at the foot of the mountains, below the tea plantations where her mother works. When her mother falls ill, Tashi goes alone to the plantation, hoping to earn money for the doctor. But she is far too small to harvest the tender shoots, and her clumsy efforts anger the cruel Overseer. Alone and desolate, the monkeys she has befriended takes he basket, isolating her even more.  Little does she know that the monkeys are trying to help her out by picking the rarest and hardest to reach tea of all. The emperor’s tea taster visits the plantation and is so shocked by what is in Tashi’s basket that he promises that her and her mother will never go wanting if she keeps the emperor supplied in this rare tea. This is a great story inspired by centuries old legends of the famous tea-picking monkeys.

Evaluation: Here is another media item that can be used to help students understand a bit more about Chinese culture and heritage with a story with ties to a classic Chinese legend.  It also shows how many people use to life, and how some still do life, in remote part of China, and helps give students who might not otherwise be exposed to that part of the world a better understanding of it.

Quantitative Reading Level: Grades K-3

Content Area: History/Social Science

TEKS Subject Standard: SS 1.15A