McCreight, J. (2011).The importance of being heard: Responses of one first grade class to the representation of AAVE in picture books. Journal of Language and Literacy Education [Online], 7(1), 35-48.
The following article will address the need for classrooms to promote the use of children’s literature whose characters speak in a dialect other than Standard English (specifically African American Vernacular English, or AAVE). It will begin by drawing attention to the lack of authentic representation of African Americans in picture books throughout history, and the potential harm done to children whose home lives are not validated by the materials chosen to line their classroom’s book shelves. The place of central importance that language holds in the lives of children will also be discussed, and an argument for the benefits of incorporating both home and school languages into academic curriculum (specifically through the use of text) will be made. Finally, the author will share an experience from her own classroom in which she and her students investigated and engaged in stories that revolved around similar plot lines, with one using African American Vernacular English and one Standard English. Suggestions will be made regarding further steps in making meaningful classroom connections to home language and literacy practices.
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