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Acquiring Appreciation: Preservice Teachers Explore Multicultural Books

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Posted on Monday, March 14, 2016

Six years ago, Westminster College preservice teachers began a yearly collaboration with Farrell Elementary School to offer the African American Read-In, a national literacy event sponsored by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English.

“From the onset, my goal was to create an opportunity for Westminster students to share children's books that embraced African American life experiences,” said Dr. Charlene Klassen Endrizzi, professor of education. “This annual collaboration equips Westminster students with knowledge and research experiences that will embrace children of every ethnicity.”

Kayla Magusiask and Kelsey Rogers, two senior early childhood education majors, researched dozens of African American children's book as a part of preparing for the read-in, and also for their project for the upcoming Undergraduate Research and Arts Celebration (URAC). The pair analyzed African American and African children’s books for the use of loaded words, stereotyping, illustrations, and author’s background.

“Not only is learning the fundamentals of being a teacher important, but it’s vital to have experiences researching and teaching in a classroom setting,” said Rogers.

After choosing books that resembled an accurate portrayal of diversity, at the read-in, research was conducted before and after the kindergarten through fourth grade classroom read-in. The research survey gauged preservice teacher perception of the value of multicultural books using the Hopkins Multicultural Evaluation.

“Changes in preservice teachers’ attitudes will be outlined in an effort to shed light on the importance and impact of using, not just African American books, but diverse multicultural children’s books in future teacher’s classrooms,” said Endrizzi.

For more information about the read-in or the education program at Westminster, contact Endrizzi at or (724) 946-7189.