Cosmopolitanism in multicultural children’s texts and reader response
Diversification of student populations (Vespa et al., 2018) and the push for texts that portray characters from all cultures (Neary, 2015) shows the need in research for a continued exploration of students’ responses to multicultural texts. The current research involving multicultural texts describes how students may relate to characters that are culturally similar or dissimilar from themselves (Brooks, 2006). Adding a theoretical view of cosmopolitanism (Hull & Stornaiuolo, 2014) can show how students’ worldviews and stances are shaped through the inclusion of multicultural children's texts. This study is a qualitative practitioner inquiry that included 15 third-grade students. The questions included considerations of how texts reflected cosmopolitan stances, the instructional decisions a teacher makes to encourage development of cosmopolitan stances, and what cosmopolitan stances may be present in students' reader responses. The research included a three-part methodology: (1) text analysis and text set curation, (2) pedagogical approaches to incorporate multicultural texts in the curriculum, and (3) analysis of students’ reader responses to the selected texts. Text analysis included combination of the components of Critical Multicultural Analysis (Botelho & Rudman, 2009) and cosmopolitan stances. Pedagogical approaches were analyzed using field notes and remained dynamic. The readers' responses were analyzed using a combination of open coding and cosmopolitan stances. Text analysis results showed that the texts fell within two groups: written by a culturally authentic or a culturally adjacent author. The field notes demonstrated how teacher lines of questioning and reader response prompts affected students’ responses to multicultural texts. The readers’ response analysis indicated that students reflected all three of the cosmopolitan stances in their verbal and written responses. As the study progressed, students moved away from the reflexive stance and more into the proximal and reciprocal stances. Findings from this study can be used by publishers to understand how multicultural literature may prompt students to develop cosmopolitan stances. This study shows teachers how their pedagogy can affect students’ responses to multicultural texts and how they may reflect the various cosmopolitan stances. Researchers can use the study results to understand how a cosmopolitan lens can be applied to multicultural texts and readers’ responses.