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Reading the world: Reading Red Scarf Girl in a 9th grade English language arts class
Multicultural literature
Local and global literature
Curriculum and instruction
English language arts
Issue Date: 
Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting (AERA), San Diego, California, 13-17 April 2009
This study examines how one teacher implemented the study of a multicultural literary text in a rural 9th grade English Language Arts classroom. Specifically, it examines the kinds of classrooms conversations that arose as a result of the study of Red Scarf Girl (1997), a memoir set during the Cultural Revolution in China. The findings show that the choice of a culturally distant text from another nation encouraged conversations about what it meant to be an American, and provided potential discursive spaces for discussion about self, nation, and world. However, there were also tendencies towards non-critical readings and thinking in problematic binaries. Implications for rethinking multicultural literature to include conversations about self, nation, and world are discussed. In thinking about text choice, I suggest that we need to begin to think about students both as Americans and global citizens in order to bring culturally relevant conversations into the classroom.
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