In today's world, and especially today's America, where our population is becoming ever more diverse, it is important to include multi-cultural literature in the classroom. Multi-cultural literature can serve to educate students about the cultures in their own community and around the world, as well as promote appreciation for cultural diversity in the school and classroom. This is especially true in an ESL classroom, where students from all over the world come together to learn English.
During my first year of teaching, I was given a copy of Seedfolks by the ESL department at my school. It was only a single copy, but I read it and decided that I wanted to use it in my classroom, so I put in a project on Donorschoose.org for a classroom set of Seedfolks and a few other titles. That first year, my students so loved the story, that I have used it every year since, even using it with 5th graders.
Seedfolks is a unique story, written as a collection of 13 short stories each told by a different narrator with a unique perspective on the world. The story begins when a young girl from Vietnam plants seeds in an abandoned lot. Others see her planting the seeds, and each, for his or her own reasons, also decides to plant in the garden. A message of hope emerges against a backdrop of a neighborhood and neighbors who began with little hope.
The book is a wonderful piece of adolescent iterature, but also lends itself easily to be a way to teach content in science, social studies, and math. Through the social and personal problems that these characters experience, we can examine societal problems that will give the students a more profound understanding of how social studies applies to their own lives and the lives of others.
In addition, the various racial and ethnic backgrounds of these characters provide a means of examining other countries, their cultures and social institutions. The history of Immigration to the United States can be addressed; the ways in which immigrants color and shape American society can also be taught. Another social studies theme that can be easily addressed is community. A study of plant life and growth can be incorporated, bringing science into the mix.
If you're interested in incorporating this Novel Study into your classroom, you can increase the richness of your classroom reading program exponentially. My students always enjoy reading the book and find it easy to connect to the various characters and ideas.
I have a complete, 138 page Seedfolks Novel Study Unit available at my TpT store, which will have everything that you need to help you use this wonderful piece of literature to its full potential in your classroom. This unit is aligned with the 6-12 ELA Common Core Standards in Reading and Writing. Head on over and check it out today!