Elementary Teachers’ Perspectives on the Use of Multicultural Literature in Their Classrooms


  • Geraldine Mongillo William Paterson University of New Jersey
  • Karen F. Holland Former graduate student at William Paterson University.




Elementary teachers, Multicultural Literature


This qualitative study set out to determine how multicultural literature was used and perceived by US elementary school teachers, and how the beliefs of teachers shape perceptions, selection, interpretation, and the teaching of multicultural literature (Ketter & Lewis, 2001).

Twenty-six (26) elementary school teachers across the country responded to this study. An invitational email with a web-survey hyperlink was utilized. Variables pertaining to participant background, definition, selection acquirement and application of “multicultural” literature, the elementary school community and district mandates were addressed in the web survey.

Findings revealed that all participants used multicultural literature sometime during the school year. The majority of participants were Caucasian females teaching in suburban schools, which did not have a mandated multicultural curriculum. Regardless of mandates, the majority applied a “narrow” definition for multicultural literature using the words “cultural”, “race,” and “nationality.”  Other findings indicated that elementary school teachers used multicultural literature more frequently when they had strong administrative support, regardless of their students’ or their own ethnicity.

Author Biographies

Geraldine Mongillo, William Paterson University of New Jersey

Geraldine Mongillo, PhD, is a Professor of Literacy and the chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Professional Studies at William Paterson University of New Jersey. Dr. Mongillo’s interests include adolescent literacy, multicultural literature, and the preparation of reading specialists.  Recent publications appeared in the American Teacher Education Yearbook XXI, Teacher Education and Practice, and the Journal of College Reading and Learning.  She can be reached at mongillog@wpunj.edu

Karen F. Holland, Former graduate student at William Paterson University.

Karen Holland is a graduate of the Master's in Literacy program at William Paterson University.  Her interests include multicultural literature and elementary education.  She is currently teaching reading in a Florida school district.



How to Cite

Mongillo, G., & Holland, K. F. (2017). Elementary Teachers’ Perspectives on the Use of Multicultural Literature in Their Classrooms. Language and Literacy, 18(3), 16–32. https://doi.org/10.20360/G2MP4G