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Teaching Cultural Competency through Multicultural Literature

Title: Teaching Cultural Competency through Multicultural Literature


In today’s globalized world, where people from diverse cultural backgrounds coexist, it is essential to promote cultural competency among students. Cultural competency refers to the ability to understand, appreciate, and navigate different cultural perspectives and practices. One impactful way to foster cultural competency in education is through the use of multicultural literature. Multicultural literature encompasses books, stories, and texts that offer varied perspectives on cultural identities, experiences, and histories. By incorporating multicultural literature into the curriculum, educators can facilitate meaningful discussions, broaden students’ horizons, and shape empathetic individuals who appreciate and celebrate cultural differences.

Importance of Teaching Cultural Competency:

Cultural competency goes beyond mere tolerance; it fosters understanding and appreciation for diverse cultures. In an increasingly interconnected world, individuals with cultural competency skills can navigate global interactions, workplaces, and conversations with respect and empathy. Teaching cultural competency is crucial to create an inclusive learning environment that promotes mutual understanding and prepares students for a diverse society.

Role of Multicultural Literature in Teaching Cultural Competency:

1. Promoting Diversity: Multicultural literature exposes students to a wide range of cultural backgrounds, identities, and experiences. By representing diverse narratives, it challenges mainstream biases and fosters empathy. Through these stories, students can explore different perspectives and break down stereotypes, promoting intercultural understanding.

2. Developing Empathy: Engaging with multicultural literature allows students to walk in the shoes of characters from different cultures. By identifying with diverse protagonists and their struggles, students can cultivate empathy and gain an appreciation for the challenges faced by communities different from their own. This empathy is vital in developing culturally competent individuals who can relate to and respect others.

3. Discovering Shared Human Experiences: While multicultural literature celebrates diverse cultures, it also highlights the universal human experiences that connect us all. By reading about characters from various backgrounds, students recognize common emotions, desires, and struggles. This recognition cultivates a sense of shared humanity and promotes inclusivity and acceptance.

4. Understanding Historical and Contemporary Realities: Multicultural literature provides a platform to explore historical and contemporary issues related to race, ethnicity, religion, and social justice. By examining these issues through literature, students can gain a deeper understanding of complex societal problems and learn to critically analyze them. This critical analysis is crucial for creating informed and culturally sensitive individuals.

Strategies for Teaching Cultural Competency through Multicultural Literature:

1. Book Selection: Teachers should choose books that represent a diverse range of cultures, ethnicities, religions, and identities. These books should prioritize authenticity and accurate representation, allowing students to learn about different cultural practices, traditions, and beliefs.

2. Pre-Reading Activities: Before reading a multicultural text, teachers can introduce students to the historical and cultural context of the story. This background knowledge enables students to better comprehend and engage with the text, fostering cultural awareness.

3. Guided Discussions: After reading, teachers should facilitate discussions that encourage students to explore diverse perspectives, cultural experiences, and the social themes presented in the literature. These discussions can be guided by open-ended questions that spark critical thinking and reflection.

4. Collaborative Projects: Assigning group projects that require students to research, present, or creatively respond to a multicultural text promotes collaboration, communication, and cultural understanding. This approach allows students to actively engage with the material and learn from their peers’ diverse perspectives.


Teaching cultural competency is crucial in preparing students for a diverse and interconnected world. By incorporating multicultural literature into the curriculum, educators can effectively promote cultural understanding, empathy, and inclusivity. Through diverse narratives and authentic representations, multicultural literature fosters student engagement, critical thinking, and an appreciation for different cultures. By investing in the teaching of cultural competency through multicultural literature, we can nurture empathetic individuals who are capable of embracing and celebrating diversity in all its forms.

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