Freeman, Yvonne and David Freeman. "Connecting Students to Culturally Relevant Texts." Talking Points 15.2 (April/May 2004): 7-12.
Among other of the Freemans' ideas like culture being more than one's enthicity, the following struck me especially: "Readers like Francisco can more easily construct meaning from a text that contains familiar elements because their background knowledge helps them make predictions and inferences about the story" (7). Especially helpful is I'm not pigeon-holing culture; that is, insisting that culture is nothing more than just his/her race and or ethnicity. One's faith, for example, makes up part of his culture. His politics. His geographic locale. Where he grew up, around whom versus where he lives now, and with whom he interacts. So many more criteria go into who a person is well beyond who he is in the context of his ethnic/racial group. But to get back to the Freemans' very valid assertion: it's these familiar elements that make for engagement with a text. So a kid who grows up loving to play football will be more inclined to read stories (fiction and nonfiction) and poetry that has to do with football and less interested in an awesome book like Hattie Big Sky that has nothing absolutely to do with football but with a girl taking charge of her life by trying to handle her now-deceased uncle's several hundred acre stake in Montana. Someone, though, who grows up in a more rural area, guy or girl I'd argue, would better appreciate Larson's novel because of the man-handling of the land. You see how that would work. Find out what is a child's culture, introduce him/her to stories that respectfully and accurately represent that aspect of a child's life, and you're more likely to help that kid on the path toward true literacy.