Broaden Students' Cultural Perspectives with Project Gutenberg

Common Core Standard six of "Reading: Craft and Structure" provides an important opportunity to expose our students to different perspectives from cultures other than their own. This standard also gives us a great reason to explore some of the thousands of free texts that Project Gutenberg has to offer including many collections of short stories which can be downloaded to just about any digital device from an e-reader, a pc or laptop to a smartphone or tablet. 6. Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature. I found some excellent collections of short stories grouped by nationality and by topic. You must scroll to the bottom of the short stories bookshelf page, to see "Other" collections grouped by themes. With Halloween coming right up, I'm working on organizing a few stories from "Famous Modern Ghost Stories" for my students. I also like "Library of the World's Best Mystery and Detective Stories," and "The Most Interesting Stories of All Nations: Real Life," so I may use those later in the year. Additionally, some of the stories are grouped by English authors writing about other cultures. These could provide some excellent insights from comparing points of view about other cultures as influenced by one's own cultural perspective and could provide cross-curricular connections to learn about topics like colonialism too. In the Classroom Before your students dive into these free collections of short stories, have them brush up their knowledge and skills regarding point of view in literature by visiting Paul Laurence Dunbar High School's "Elements of the Short Story" page. Next, have your students choose one of the themes in the Gutenberg "Bookshelf" of short stories and select three or four from those listed. You could set up your classes with small groups of those who are all reading the same selections. Students can discuss the similarities and differences between points of view in these multicultural stories using graphic organizers they prepared ahead of time (a la literature circles). Jim Burke's English Companion website has a good selection of graphic organizers for language arts. I hope you find these resources helpful for meeting standard six. Any time we can broaden our students' perspectives with multicultural literature, we encourage empathy for and tolerance of those who are different than we are.