Watson Chronicle


Watson College News

WCE Faculty Author New Book on Culturally- Relevant Children’s Literature

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Watson College professor Susan Catapano and associate professor Candace Thompson, along with Jane Fleming and Sandy Ruvalcaba Carrillo, are authors of the book More Mirrors in the Classroom, Using Urban Children’s Literature to Increase Literacy. The book was published by Rowman & Little Publishers in June.


Nearly 30 percent of all public school children attend school in large or mid-size cities, totaling more than 16 million students in 22,000 schools. For schools serving culturally and linguistically diverse populations and large numbers of children living in poverty, a significant achievement gap persists. Proponents of multicultural education often advocate for instruction with culturally relevant texts to promote inclusion, compassion and understanding of our increasingly diverse society. Less discussion has focused on the significant body of research that suggests that culturally relevant texts have important effects on language and literacy development. By “connecting the dots” of existing research, More Mirrors in the Classroom raises awareness about the critical role that urban children’s literature can play in helping children learn to read and write. In addition, it provides practical step-by-step advice for increasing the cultural relevance of school curricula in order to accelerate literacy learning.

Editorial Reviews

More Mirrors in the Classroom is a comprehensive, thoughtful and respectful text that underscores the literacy practices of city-based children and teens as competent readers of their own lives and experiences. The text conveys an insightful explanation of the ways in which educators must consider the nuances of urbanity as a knowledge base for city children when selecting texts and building classroom and library book collections for urban schoolchildren. More Mirrors in the Classroom further encourages educators to reflectively consider their own diverse identity construct as a foundation upon which a fully open approach to multi-cultural literature can become a normative pedagogical framework from which truly connective and edifying teaching can emerge. The text offers important step-by-step suggestions that allow educators a solid start towards competently embracing urban children's literature for the classroom, library, and beyond. This text is a must-have resource for pre-service and veteran educators everywhere. (Vanessa Irvin, Ed.D., author, The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Street Literature)

Building on culturally relevant pedagogical tenets, insights, and practices, More Mirrors in the Classroom: Using Urban Children's Literature to Increase Literacy provides guidance and a wealth of resources which reflect and affirm the realities and lived experiences of urban youth, families, communities and perspectives. Accessible to practitioners and teacher educators alike, this poignant and engaging book is a much-needed addition to the knowledge base. (Gloria Boutte, Ph.D., distinguished professor, University of South Carolina, author of Multicultural Education: Raising Consciousness; Resounding Voices: School experiences of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds; and Educating African American Students: And how are the children?)

About the Authors

Jane Fleming is a reading specialist with more than 20 years’ experience working in urban public schools in Chicago, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. She is co-founder of KIDS LIKE US, a nonprofit organization dedicated to research, professional development and advocacy around teaching with culturally relevant texts.

Susan Catapano is professor and international coordinator in the Watson College of Education at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She has a doctorate in higher education with concentrations in adult learning and early childhood education.

Candace Thompson is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her research interests include culturally sustaining applied learning in teacher preparation, and youth empowerment.

Sandy Ruvalcaba Carrillo is a resource teacher of English learners in a school on the Southwest side of Chicago with 17 years of experience in education. She earned her undergraduate degree in bilingual/bicultural education from Western Illinois and completed a graduate degree in early childhood education at Erikson Institute.

More Mirrors in the Classroom: Using Urban Children's Literature to Increase Literacy is available through Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com and KidsLikeUs.org.

Kids Like Us is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the literacy learning of children in city schools. The organization is run entirely by volunteer educators and community members. For more information visit www.kidslikeus.org.