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Teaching Writer’s Craft with Multicultural and Diverse Literature. Jane M. Gangi, ph.d. Updated November 25, 2012. Organized by…. Biography and autobiography Informational text Contemporary Realistic Fiction Poetry Historical Fiction Concept Book Fantasy Magical Realism.

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teaching writer s craft with multicultural and diverse literature

Teaching Writer’s Craft with Multicultural and Diverse Literature

Jane M. Gangi, ph.d.

Updated November 25, 2012

organized by
Organized by….

Biography and autobiography

Informational text

Contemporary Realistic Fiction


Historical Fiction

Concept Book


Magical Realism

Why Scaffold Writer’s Craft? Cynthia Leitich Smith, Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu’s Jingle Dancer

Jingle Dancer could have taught me “transitions”—and a host of other things about writer’s craft.

beginning lines monica brown and rafael l pez s my name is celia
Beginning lines: Monica Brown and Rafael López ’s My Name Is Celia

“SUGAR! My voice is strong, smooth, and sweet. I will make you feel like dancing.

Close your eyes and listen. My voice feels like feet skipping on cool wet sand, like running under a waterfall. My voice climbs and rocks and dips and flips with the sounds of congas beating and flips with the sounds of congas beating and trumpets blaring.

Boom boom boom! beat the congas.

Clap clap clap! go the hands.

Shake shake shake! go the hips.

I am the Queen of Salsa and I invite you to come dance with me!” (n. p.)


endings savion glover and bruce weber s savion my life in tap
Endings:Savion Glover and Bruce Weber’s Savion: My Life in Tap

“And if I have anything to do with it, tap is going to keep growing. It’s going to have its proper place at last. I want tap to be like a baseball game, a football game, people coming to see us at Yankee Stadium. I want tap to be on TV I want tap to be in the movies. I want tap to be massive. Worldwide.” (p. 78)


sentence fragments tonya bolden s w e b du bois a twentieth century life
Sentence Fragments:Tonya Bolden’s W. E. B. Du Bois: A Twentieth-Century Life

“’MR. PRESIDENT, WHY NOT MAKE AMERICA SAFE FOR DEMOCRACY?’ asked banners in an NAACP land mark march on July 28, 1917.

Some eight thousand souls marched down New York City’s Fifth Avenue.

Men in dark suits.

Women and children in white.

All of them silent.

Du Bois in the forefront.” (p. 127)


format pam mu oz ryan and brian selznick s when marian sang the true recital of marian anderson
Format: Pam Muñoz Ryan and Brian Selznick’s When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson



When Marian Sang

The True Recital of Marian Anderson

The Voice of the Century

Libretto by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Staging by Brian Selznick”

(title page)


time passage nikki giovanni and bryan collier s rosa
Time Passage:Nikki Giovanni and Bryan Collier ’s Rosa

“And the people walked. They walked in the rain. They walked in the hot sun. They walked early in the morning. They walked late at night. They walked at Christmas, and they walked at Easter. They walked on the Fourth of July; they walked on Labor Day. They walked on Thanksgiving, and then it was almost Christmas again.

They still walked” (n. p.).


coherence of text and illustration joseph bruchac and s d nelson s crazy horse s vision
Coherence of text and illustration: Joseph Bruchac and S. D. Nelson’s Crazy Horse’s Vision

S. D. Nelson studied Native American ledger art to create the illustrations for Joseph Bruchac’s text.


Hybridity in writing: Lucía González and Lulu Delacre’s The Storyteller’s Candle: La velita de los cuentos

“¡Asalto!” boomed the voices of the parranderos, surprising everyone. The children stretched up on tiptoe for a good look.

“Saludos, saludos, vengo a saludar…” sang the parranderos” (p. 28)


Writing in two languages: Guadalupe Rivera Marín and Diego Rivera’s My Papa Diego and Me/Mi papá Diego y yo

“In Mexico, y pico can mean something like ‘and a little bit.’ When I was a young girl my father called me ‘Picos’ because I was so small…

En Mexico, y picopuede decir <<y un poco más>>. Cuando era niña mi padre llamaba <<Picos>>… “(p. 4)


Sensory images:Crystal Hubbard and Randy DuBurke’s Catching the Moon: The Story of a Young Girl’s Baseball Dream

“Marcenia Lyle loved baseball.

She loved the powdery taste of dust clouds as she slid through them. She loved the way the sun heated her hair as she crouched in the outfield, waiting for fly balls. And she loved the sting in her palm as a baseball slammed into it, right before tagging a runner out” (n. p.)


sensory images michelle lord and shino arihara s a song for cambodia
Sensory images:Michelle Lord and Shino Arihara’s A Song for Cambodia

“With his heart again full of sweet sounds, Arn vowed to return to his country of sugar plums, whispering grasses, and bright sunshine to help others with his music” (n. p.).


thought or theme pat mora and beatriz vidal s a l ibrary for juana the world of s or juana in s
Thought or Theme:Pat Mora and Beatriz Vidal’s A Library for Juana: The World of Sor Juana Inés

A woman’s struggle to be recognized as a scholar in the seventeenth century


irony gaylia taylor and frank morrison s george crum and the saratoga chip
Irony:Gaylia Taylor and Frank Morrison’s George Crum and the Saratoga Chip

It is ironic that the potato chip was born in an (justifiable) act of spite.


direct address jody nyasha warner and richard rudnicki s viola desmond won t be budged
Direct address: Jody Nyasha Warner and Richard Rudnicki’s Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged!

“Viola Desomond was one brave woman! Now come on here, listen in close and I’ll tell you why” (n. p.)


Audience: Luis Rodríguez’s It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way: A Barrio Story/No tiene que ser así: Una historia del barrio

Rodríguez has a very specific audience in mind when he tells his story of leaving a gang after his cousin is hurt.


writing in first person stephen buchmann and diana cohn s the bee tree
Writing in First Person:Stephen Buchmann and Diana Cohn’s The Bee Tree

“All the years of my life, I remember my grandfather going to collect the honey from the bees in the tualang trees. The bees travel hundreds of miles, even over oceans, and arrive every year just as the rainforest flowers begin to bloom” (n. p.).

Informational Text: Life Science


Writing in Second Person and Author’s Note:Amalia Astorga, as told to Gary Paul Nabhan, and Janet K. Miller’s Efraín of the Sonoran Desert: A Lizard’s Life among the Seri Indians

“Wander down into some of the hottest and driest lands in North America, and you’ll come upon a tribe know to outsiders as the Seri Indians. They have lived along the dry coasts of the ocean for centuries, celebrating the animals of the deserts and seas around them” (p. 26).

Informational Text: Earth Science

writing a foreword jan reynolds s cycle of rice a story of sustainable farming
Writing a Foreword: Jan Reynolds’s Cycle of Rice: A Story of Sustainable Farming

“To the people living on the small Indonesian island of Bali, rice is life….When it comes to growing rice, they have developed one of the world’s most efficient systems for water sharing, crop rotation, and the use of natural fertilizers and pest control” (n. p.)

Informational Text: Earth Science

Blending genres: Poetry and informational text in Kate Milway and Eugenie Fernandes’sOne Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference

“This is the school Kojo attends with the fees he paid from the money he made selling his eggs”


“There are practical lessons for country life, too: how to filter drinking water with a cloth to remove parasites…” (p. 15)

Informational Text: Economics

Combining Text, Photographs, and Illustrations:Anthony Robinson, Anthony, & June Allan’s Gervelie’s Journey: A Refugee Diary

A story of the Congo and England

See also: Hazmat’s Journey (from Chechnya)


Mohammed’s Journey (from Iraq)

Informational Text: Cultures

detail nicola campbell s shi shi etko
Detail: Nicola Campbell’s Shi-shi-etko

Before she leaves for the Indian Boarding School, Shi-shi-etko walk and gather a memory bag:

“They went to visit silver willow, red willow, sage brush, cottonwood, Labrador bushes and even kinnikinnick. They visited blueberry, salmonberry, saskatoon, and huckleberry bushes. They found bitterroot, wild potato and wild celery patches. On and on they went through fields of wild roses, Indian paintbrush, fireweed and columbine” (n. p.).

Contemporary Realistic Fiction

inner story truong tran and ann phong s going home coming home
Inner Story:Truong Tran and Ann Phong’s Going Home, Coming Home

“What’s so great about Vietnam anyway? And why do you keep calling Vietnam home? I want to say. Instead I sigh and say, “This trip is taking forever” (n. p.)

Contemporary Realistic Fiction

Metaphor:Mary Williams and R. Gregory Christie’s Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan

“Education is very important. It can be your mothers and fathers. It can speak for you, when your parents cannot” (n. p.)

Contemporary Realistic Fiction—based on a true story

verb tense monica gunning and elaine pedlar s a shelter in our car
Verb Tense: Monica Gunning and Elaine Pedlar’sA Shelter in Our Car

“Police cars are coming closer! The sirens hurt my ears and the light blind my eyes. I jump up, really, really frightened.

“Shhh, Zettie, lie down,” Mama says. “We don’t want to be noticed.”

We sink between the clothes on the back seat of the car. “Mama, it’s creepy sleeping in our car,” I whisper.

Contemporary Realistic Fiction

onomatopoeic words olivier ka and luc melanson s my great big mama
Onomatopoeic words: Olivier Ka and Luc Melanson’s My Great Big Mama

“My mamma gives me noisy kisses. They go ‘shmops’ on my cheek”

(n. p.)

Contemporary Realistic Fiction

parallel story juan felipe herrera and ernesto cuevas s featherless desplumado
Parallel Story:Juan Felipe Herrera and Ernesto Cuevas’s Featherless/Desplumado

Tomasito, who has spina bifida, lives in a trailer with his father. Tomasito’s father gives him a pet bird that has a deformed leg; their stories, and successes, parallel each other.

Contemporary Realistic Fiction

simile and personification melrose cooper and nneka bennett s 2000 gettin through thursday
Simile (and personification): Melrose Cooper and Nneka Bennett’s (2000)Gettin’ through Thursday

“Mondays and Tuesdays amble by just fine.”

But, as funds begin to dwindle, by Wednesday,“[W]e feel it comin’, like an earthquake rumblin’ underground, makin’ folks edgy before they even know why. And the next day, my family and I grit all we got toward getting’ through Thursday. That’s because payday at Mama’s school where she’s a lunch lady doesn’t come till Friday” (n. p.).

Contemporary Realistic Fiction

repeated lines diana cohn and francisco delgado s si se puede yes we can janitor strike in l a
Repeated lines: Diana Cohn and Francisco Delgado ’s ¡Si, se puede!/Yes, we can!: Janitor strike in L.A.

Each night, before leaving for her job as a custodian, Carlitos’s mother says, “Sleep with the angels, Carlitos.” Each morning, before Carlitos leaves for school, he says to his mother who has come home to sleep, “Sleep with the angels, Mamá” (n. p.).

Contemporary Realistic Fiction

metaphor maxine trotter and isabelle arsenault s migrant
Metaphor: Maxine Trotter and Isabelle Arsenault’s Migrant

There are times when Anna feels like a bird. It is the birds, after all, that fly north in the spring and south every fall, chasing the sun, following the warmth.

Her family is a flock of geese beating its way there and back again (n. p.)

Contemporary Realistic Fiction

dialogue ahmad akbarpour and morteza zahedi s good night commander
Dialogue:Ahmad Akbarpour and Morteza Zahedi’s Good Night, Commander

“Then I hop over and pick up my crutches. He can’t believe it. He drops his gun and picks up my leg.

‘Can you walk with this?’ he asks.

‘Yes,’ I say.

‘Can you run?’


‘Can I borrow this, just for tonight? I want to show my mom.’

‘I thought she was dead,’ I say.

‘Yes, but she can see me’” (n. p.)

Contemporary Realistic Fiction

author s note sun yung shin and kim cogan s cooper s lesson
Author’s Note:Sun Yung Shin and Kim Cogan’s Cooper’s Lesson

“I…wanted to explore how language plays such an important part in who we are and how we relate to other people. I imagine how one boy might come to understand—and challenge—himself when he feels caught between two worlds’” (n. p.).

Contemporary Realistic Fiction

symbolism kathleen and michael lacapa s less than half more than whole
Symbolism:Kathleen and Michael Lacapa’s Less Than Half, More Than Whole

“’This corn is like you,’ Tony’s grandfather said. ‘It is one of great beauty because of its many colors. And just as the corn with its many colors is a gift to the people, so you are a gift from the Creator.

‘Some will see only the blue in this corn, and others will see only the red…You are not half a person because of your color, my son; you are a whole, beautiful person’” (n. p.).

Contemporary Realistic Fiction

metaphor bebe moore campbell bebe moore and e b lewis s sometimes m y m ommy g ets a ngry
Metaphor:Bebe Moore Campbell, Bebe Moore and E. B. Lewis’s Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry

“I have cereal in my tummy, not pancakes. But I’m still full. Sometimes my mommy has dark clouds inside her. I can’t stop the rain from falling, but I can find sunshine in my mind” (n. p.).

Contemporary Realistic Fiction

All the synonyms for “brown”: Malathi Iyengar and Jamel Akib’s Tan to Tamarind: Poems About the Color Brown



Milk-tea brown.

Spicy-sweet masala tea brown… (p. 3)

Also poems about: sienna, topaz, bay, sepia, cocoa, ocher, beige, sandalwood, coffee, adobe, tamarind, spruce, nutmeg, brown


linguistic diversity powerful beginning and simile ruth forman s young cornrows callin out the moon
Linguistic Diversity, Powerful Beginning, and Simile:Ruth Forman’s Young Cornrows Callin Out the Moon

“We don have no backyard

frontyard neither

we got black magic n brownstone steps

when the sun go down

we don have no backyard

no sof grass rainbow kites mushrooms butterflies

we got South Philly summer

when the sun go down” (n. p.).


onomatopoeia pat mora and rafael l pez s yum mmmm qu rico america s s proutings
Onomatopoeia:Pat Mora and Rafael López’s Yum!¡MmMm! Qué rico¡ America’s Sproutings


“We crack hard, brown shells,

Family munching, story time,

Crunchy taste of fall”


“Round roly-poly

Squirts seedy, juicy splatter.

Red burst in your mouth”

(n. p.).


linguistic diversity a lafaye s and keith d shepherd s walking home to rosie lee
Linguistic Diversity:A. LaFaye’s and Keith D. Shepherd’s Walking Home to Rosie Lee

“War’s over. Government say we free. Folks be on the move. Getting the feel for freedom. Not me. I’m looking for my mama, Rosie Lee.

Master Turner sold my mama away from me. Haven’t seen her since they put me in the fields to work, but I ‘member how she smell like jasmine flowers in the summer sun” (n. p.).

Historical Fiction Picture Book

personification michelle lord and felicia hoshino s little sap and monsieur rodin
Personification: Michelle Lord and Felicia Hoshino’s Little Sap and Monsieur Rodin

“Some days the sea was smooth and the ship rocked soothingly, like the hammock of Sap’s babyhood. Other days were stormy. The boat shuddered and the sea spit” (n. p.)

Historical Fiction, based on a true story

Characterization:Tim Tingle and Jeanne Rorex Bridge’s Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom

“Martha Tom knew her mother could cackle like a mad crow on the outside, while inside she would coo like a dove with love for her daughter” (n. p.).

Historical Fiction, based on a true story

three dimensional texts menena cotin and rosana faria s the black book of colors
Three Dimensional Texts: Menena Cotin and Rosana Faria’s The Black Book of Colors

“Thomas says that yellow tastes like mustard, but is as soft as a baby chick’s feathers” (n. p.)

Concept Book

character details walter mosley s 47
Character Details: Walter Mosley’s 47

“He was the most beautiful being I had ever seen. I say that he was colored but not like any Negro I’d known. His skin was the color of highly polished brass but a little darker, a little like copper too but not quite. His eyes were almond-shaped and large with red-brown pupils. He was bare-chested and slender, but there was elegance in his lean stance. All he wore was a pair of loose trousers cinched at the waist with a piece of rope” (p. 47).

Magical Realism

personification and onomatopoeia walter mosley s 47
Personification and Onomatopoeia: Walter Mosley’s 47

“The night air was filled with chirps and clicks of insects and the smell of night blooming jasmine. The nearly full moon was wearing a cloud as a belt and stars winked all around” (p. 67).

“There were larks and whip-poor-wills singing in the trees. A dry breeze was blowing and bright sunbeams peeked down through the dark covering of leaves and pine needles. We walked along a shallow creek bed that burbled over large white stones” (p. 210).

Magical Realism

audience j r r tolkien s the lord of the rings trilogy
Audience: J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy

Tolkien’s audience for many years was an audience of one: C. S. Lewis.

“But for his interest and unceasing eagerness for more I should never have brought it to a conclusion” (as cited in Gormley, p. 94).


in addition to the bibliography posted on the wiki more information available
In addition to the bibliography posted on the wiki, more information available:

in Chapter 2 of Deepening Literacy Learning: Art and Literature Engagements in K-8 Classrooms (Reilly, Gangi, & Cohen, 2010)