Multicultural Read Aloud

Katie Castor

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"Jingle Dancer" written by Cynthia Leitich Smith and Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying- Hwa Hu was published in the year 2000 by Morrow Junior Books of HarperCollins Publishers.

This Read Aloud is targeted for 3rd graders. "Jingle Dancer" is about a young girl named Jenna who wishes so badly to be able to carry on her family tradition by becoming a jingle dancer, and dancing at the powwow. Jenna is a member of the Muscogee Nation in Oklahoma. This book takes the reader on the journey with Jenna to find enough jingles to be able to dance at the powwow. "Jingle Dancer" has been nominated for many awards including:

  • Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies and a Selectors Choice for 2001
  • Named to the 2001 2x2 Reading List of Twenty books recommended for children ages two through second grade by the Texas Library Association.
  • Finalist, Children's/ YA Division, the Oklahoma Book Awards.
  • Named CCBC Choice for 2001
  • NEA Native American Book List

This picture book allows the reader to understand the importance of carrying on a family tradition and what family traditions might look like in an American Indian home. This book is written in a way to help the reader understand the American Indian culture by providing examples of the importance of the moon and sun, what foods are eaten, and how traditions are carried down through generations.

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Vocabulary Words

  • Muscogee- A City in Oklahoma, consisting of mainly American Indian people.
  • Regalia- The decorations on ceremonial clothing.

Both vocabulary words will be introduced after the title of the book is introduced, but before the Read Aloud.

Regalia- I will project a picture of a ceremonial Jingle Dancer dress, and have the students raise their hands to tell me what they think it could be and what it's used for. After I have been given a few answers, I will give them the real definition. I will also project it up of the board for all students to see.

Muscogee- I will project this word up on the board and have students raise hands to tell me if they have any idea what they think this word might mean. If I have no responses, I will give this question, "Both you and I live in a city right? Whats the name of our city, or the city you might live in?" I will wait for a response and give positive feedback. I will then tell the students the real meaning of the word, and also tell them that the name of the city is also used to describe the people who live there (Muskogees), and it's also used to describe anything that may come from that city.

Word Study Activities-

Once the students know the meanings of the words, I will have them pair up with their shoulder partner. I will then instruct the students to think about the meanings of the words and to create one sentence using both of the words. The sentence does not have to be realistic, but it does have to make sense. The students will write the sentence on their whiteboard, and we will quickly share with the class. I will then say "Okay Friends, wasn't that fun? Well, in just a few minutes, we will find out how these words are used in our book "Jingle Dancer" and why they are important to this story."

Reading Aloud

Before I start reading, I will go over expectations with the class so they know their responsibilities. The students will have their white board and marker while I read so they can answer questions along the way. The students will never know when I will stop to ask a question so they must be listening and paying attention throughout the whole story.



  • After the vocabulary activity, I will show the students the cover of the book and ask them to make an inference about what the story is going to be about, based on the picture and the new vocabulary words they now know.


  • "What do you think could be hanging in Aunt Sis's bedroom?" Have students draw a picture or write what they think it could be.
  • "Jenna and Mrs. Scott are making fry bread, what is something that you like to make, or that a family member makes for you?"
  • 'Why do you think that the three rows of jingles are silent after Jenna leaves cousin Elizabeth's apartment?" "What could this symbolize? Write down your answer"
  • "After Jenna found Grandma Wolfe's moccasins and put them on, Where do you think she is going to find her forth row of jingles?" Write down your answer.

After- "Was there ever a time in your life that a family member or close friend helped you accomplish something?" "What is a family tradition that you want to continue?"

"After reading this story, we now know that celebrations and traditions happen in all different cultures, and we are able to share our stories and the things that matter to us to others, to hep them understand our family culture."

Reflection • Why was this particular book selected? How did it “match” the funds of knowledge of this particular class/group of students?

The book "Jingle Dancer" was selected for this particular class because they have a real interest for stories that relate to someones life. In the book, a girl named Jenna is wanting to be a jingle dancer and she does all that she can to accomplish that. The vocabulary words that I chose to include were really interesting to the students and it seemed to really grab their attention. The book was in the appropriate grade level for these students and they seemed to really relate to Jenna's story.

One of the biggest strengths of the read aloud was how the students really seamed to enjoy the book. I felt like this was a strength because it aloud the students to be focused on something important for learning instead of being distracted on something else. Another strength was the class participation. The students were receptive of me teaching a lesson and the responded very well to the questions that I asked.

One of the things that I would do differently would be to have the students know what their expectations were after the lesson. When I finished my lesson the students got up from their spots and started to pack up for the day without being instructed to do so. If I allow myself to be more assertive I know that this will change in the future.

Implementing multicultural children's literature that is culturally and linguistically diverse relative to my elementary students has allowed my students to know that I am the type of teacher to look at my students personally and create my lessons for their wants, needs, and backgrounds.