Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Maria Jose Botelho

Second Advisor

Laura Valdiviezo

Third Advisor

Demetria Shabazz

Subject Categories

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Curriculum and Instruction | Elementary Education | Language and Literacy Education


While critical approaches are an accepted teaching philosophy (Aukerman, 2012; Behrman, 2006; Luke et al., 2010), there requires further inquiry of theoretical and pedagogical practices for critical multicultural teaching of culturally diverse literature in the elementary context. The problem is not just about what we read with students, but how we critically and multiculturally read and use children's literature for promoting an understanding of social constructs. The essential question that guides this dissertation is: What does critical multicultural engagement with children's texts offer students as they read and respond to texts? This critical ethnography argues that pedagogy centered on critical multicultural engagement with children’s texts invites and promotes critical multicultural consciousness and agency, offering students the possibility for critical constructions as they negotiate meaning of sociocultural themes. My pedagogical arguments are informed by critical multicultural analysis (Botelho & Rudman, 2009) who suggest teaching critically with multicultural literature includes keeping “power relations of class, race, and gender at the center of…investigations of children's literature…connecting our reading to sociopolitical and economic justice" (p. 268). This research adopts feminist poststructuralist theory and includes a critical reflexive process that "aids in understanding the workings of our social world" (Pillow, 2003, p. 178). Reflexivity provides the examination of perspectives, power, and positioning (Pillow, 2003) as the participants (the teacher-researcher and her third-grade students) engage with texts. Incorporating ethnodrama (Saldaña, 2003), I present the students’ responses as mini scripts illustrating how students’ discourse informs and leads the learning and gives the reader a sense of being there. As the students respond to texts, they produce new texts and through critical creativity they represent their understandings of social constructs such as race and sociocultural identity. Critical discourse analysis (Rex & Schiller, 2009), is used to discuss power relations manifested in the critical multicultural events.