Bend de tree when-e young: cultural relevance in reading books

PhD Thesis

Grey, M. 2018. Bend de tree when-e young: cultural relevance in reading books. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Faculty of Education
AuthorsGrey, M.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameEdD

This study emanates from the continued presence of institutional racism (Gillborn et al, 2016). It is specifically relevant to the cultural relevance of reading books, and fixes its gaze on the Biff, Chip and Kipper series, developed by the Oxford Reading Tree (ORT) reading scheme.

By detailing a critical content analysis of a small sample of books within this reading scheme, this study highlights the importance of cultural relevance (Ladson-Billings, 1993). This is with special regard to the nurturing of children, who have historically and contemporarily not seen sufficient positive and normalising portrayals of themselves, in the media and in print. This study is conducted on the premise that such portrayals could lead to increased personal reconciliation and consequently, encourage unity in families, communities and nations. Critical Race Theory (CRT) informs the methodology used to conduct the analysis, which includes a high regard for the use of activist principles. This study therefore adds to the literature that uses CRT within education. The analysis revealed that the ORT books studied cannot claim cultural relevance, with regards to two out of the three identified tenets of LadsonBillings’ definition of the term. These tenets are firstly, that children should be enabled to learn to be culturally competent especially with regards to their own identified culture; and secondly, that children should be taught how to challenge institutions that maintain unfair inequalities. Further research would need to be conducted in order to determine the outcome with regards to the third tenet, which is that children ought to achieve academic success. This study foregrounds an agentic approach to the issue of under or misrepresentation, and in so doing, proposes the continuation of the development of a literacy programme, which is being published using a strategic essentialist conception of black British cultural capital.

KeywordsCritical race theory; cultural relevance; reading books; black British culture
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Publication process dates
Deposited31 Jul 2019
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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