McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Winona Leon

leon.JPG

Major and Classification

English (Creative Writing)

Faculty Mentor

  • Gale Sinatra, Ph.D.

Department

  • Rossier: Education

McNair Project

The Stories We Tell:Representation of Identity in Children's Literature and Curriculum

Abstract
Children's stories offer multiple perspectives, which can inform students about alternative lifestyles. My study investigates the following question: are minority students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, in under-resourced schools, given the same opportunities to forge connections between themselves and the stories they read? I examine how aspects of identity are presented in the stories that fifth-graders read in their classrooms. My purpose is to discern whether the curriculum for these stories support students' personal development and interpretations of the world. I interviewed fifth-grade teachers about the types of methods they use to teach stories to their students as well as about the types of characters with which their student's best identify. Findings from my study indicated that there is a greater need for curriculum that integrates not only multiple perspectives and meaningful experiences but also multiracial characters with a broad range of socioeconomic statuses.