Why DEI / Literacy?

Developmental Psychology Studies Show that Early Contact with Diverse Resources is Essential to developing diverse, equitable, and inclusive educational environments.

“Given that peer relationships and dynamics are more easily changed for younger relative to older children (Fabes, Martin, & Hanish, 2008), this study has important implications for altering children’s intergroup attitudes and behaviors as early as 5 years of age and suggests that contact with diverse peers may be an important and robust intervention that can be easily im- plemented by adults working with young children1

American students are very diverse, but the literature they are given is often not.

“According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (2018), as of the fall of 2014 the K-12 U.S. student population is now made up of more students of color (52%) than white students (48%). As such, U.S. children today are already exposed to a majority-minority situation in school” 1

Structural inequities in the American school system have led to a literacy achievement gap in non-white students. Studies show that using diverse and multi-cultural literature in classrooms could increase Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic students’ academic achievement.

“Specifically, she posited that if teachers begin using the works of authors of diverse backgrounds, using materials that present diverse cultures in an authentic manner, and becoming culturally responsive in their management of classrooms and interactions with students, they will assist in the academic achievement of students from diverse backgrounds.” 2

Fostering a love of reading in children directly relates to academic success.

“The level of a student’s reading engagement is a better predictor of literacy performance than his or her socioeconomic background, indicating that cultivating a student’s interest in reading can help overcome home disadvantage.2

Engagement Strategies 4

Get a child’s attention before the reading begins.

Get kids excited to read by giving an exciting summary of the book beforehand!

Focus on key vocabulary words while reading.

Choose words related to the story’s theme or topic. Define the words by acting them out or using pictures while reading.


While reading, say: “see the ____.” Ask a child to show you the _____. Have the child say the word they were told to see and show.

Take Note of a child’s favorite book.

Make note inside the front cover when a child chooses a favorite book. When reading in groups, tell all of the children who’s favorite the book is. Have children talk about their favorite books with each other.

Establish regular reading times and routines.

Consistency is key! This allows children to know when reading time is, and encourages them to begin the activity.

Small Group Reading

This allows for more individual participation, less distraction, and more encouragement to ask questions.

Start reading early!

If they can, have the infant/toddler point to things, hold the book, or turn pages to keep their attention. Read the same books often, as young children do well with repetition.

Engagement Tips for Educators

  • According to the APA, these are good strategies for Educators to implement in addressing and reducing educational disparities based on ethnicity and race: 3
    • Identify and promote the cultural competencies of service providers in early childhood education.
    • Train and consult with educators to capitalize on the generally high educational aspirations and valuing of education that immigrant students tend to bring with them to school.
    • Educate prospective and in-service educators about support to ethnic and racial minority boys and to inoculate children against stereotyping.
    • Introduce prospective teachers and in-service teachers on how culture, identity and context interact, and interventions that have been demonstrated to increase achievement in ethnic and racial minority students.
    • Build on the social, cultural, linguistic, experiential and intellectual assets that students from diverse backgrounds bring with them into classrooms.
  1. Fabes, Richard A., et al. “Children and Youth in a Diverse World: Applied Developmental Perspectives on Diversity and Inclusion.” Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, PDF ed., no. 59, 2018, pp. 1-4.
  2. Ogletree, Quinita. “Building Momentum: The Importance of Multicultural Literature in the Classroom.” Texas Association for Literacy Education Yearbook, PDF ed., Texas Association for Literacy Education, 2014, pp. 110-23.
  3. Teaching Strategies. “8+ Ways to Support Literacy Skills Development.” Teaching Strategies, 6 Dec. 2018, teachingstrategies.com/blog/8-ways-to-support-literacy-skills-development/. Accessed 6 July 2020.
  4. American Psychological Association. “Ethnic and Racial Disparities in Education: Psychology’s Contributions to Understanding and Reducing Disparities.” American Psychological Association, 3 Aug. 2012, http://www.apa.org/ed/resources/racial-disparities. Accessed 6 July 2020.
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