Culturally Competent and Sensitive Lesson Curriculum Books for Educators

10 Educator Books Highlighting Effective and Inclusive Approaches to Core Subjects, Electives, and Art-Centered Courses for Learners in Kindergarten Through High School with Rachel Werner

Creating an equitable learning environment is a matter of much debate around the United States. Critical race theory, transformative justice and police-free schools are a few of the contentious topics affecting the academic perimeters students encounter daily—and Madison is no exception. Teachers, librarians, school counselors and administrators are trying to provide support for children and teens from diverse backgrounds. But how to best do so is not always clear. This is particularly problematic when one considers the majority of published pedagogical primers and instructional texts have been (and continue to be) written by hetero, cis White men.


“Founder and president emerita of the Children's Defense Fund, Marian Wright Edelman, famously said, "You can't be what you don't see." Edelman's quote touches on a critical barrier to BBIPOC folx: a lack of representation in public and free charter schools' lesson plans, curriculum and staffing. As Edelman has said before me, education plays a significant role in the framing of our students' identity. Even though BBIPOC children will make up 52 percent of K–12 students by 2021, post-analysis found BBIPOC folx only made up 20 percent of all teachers,” explains local writer and certified teacher Charles Payne.


“Sadly this information, in addition to the perceived achievement gap in K–12 education, is striking. For all students, a new take on the school curriculum might help narrow these results. I have helped several schools earn higher passing percentages using a culturally responsive curriculum. My own experience in public and free charter schools truly exemplifies the difference that a frame of relevance can have on a student's interest and achievement in education,” he states. “Regardless of how much progress we have made towards inclusive, representative education, there's room for improvement—especially when emerging research suggests that there is much to be gained by increasing our efforts.”


The following titles provide useful insights on crafting an effective, inclusive approach to core subjects, electives and art-centered courses for learners in kindergarten through high school.


You can also find all these recommendations and more on our Bookshop page.

Critical Race Theory in Education: A Scholar's Journey

Author: Gloria Ladson-Billings | Publisher: Teachers College Press


This collection of essays written by renowned education theorist Gloria Ladson-Billings is divided into three sections—Critical Race Theory, Issues of Inequality, and Epistemology and Methodologies—which delve deeply into her astute knowledge as a teacher and researcher.

Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy

Author: Gholdy Muhammad | Publisher: Scholastic Teaching Resources


Language and literacy professor Dr. Gholdy Muhammad’s introduction to crafting learning modules based on a “Historically Responsive Literacy Framework” has sample lesson plans, plus questions teachers and students can use to explore self-identity.

Culturally Responsive Teaching in Gifted Education: Building Cultural Competence and Serving Diverse Student Populations

Editors: C Matthew Fugate, Wendy A. Behrens, Cecelia Boswell | Publisher: Routledge


Educational advocacy is demonstrated through a variety of real-life examples in each essay written by a different K-12 professional. The three sections, Culturally Responsive Practices; Race, Ethnicity, and Culture; and Gender, Sex, and Sense of Self, are followed by an implicit bias survey for teachers at the end of the book.

Culturally Responsive Teaching for Multilingual Learners: Tools for Equity

Authors: Sydney Snyder, Diane Staehr Fenner | Publisher: Corwin


Taking stock of the unique challenges multilingual learners face academically and socially at school (then outlining culturally compassionate tools for success) is the focal point of this enlightening text written by Diane Staehr Fenner, Ph.D. and Sydney Snyder, Ph.D who run SupportEd, a female-owned company committed to “empowering English learners and their educators.”

How the Arts Can Save Education: Transforming Teaching, Learning, and Instruction

Authors: Erica Rosenfeld Halverson, Ellen Weinstein | Publisher: Teachers College Press


“The primary way we can make our classrooms inclusive for all children is to develop culturally sustaining teaching practices, '' affirms author and UW-Madison professor Dr. Erica Rosenfeld Halverson. “And the arts are the best way I know to engage kids and teachers with the cultural resources they bring to their learning.”(*Tune in for a virtual conversation on this topic hosted by A Room of One’s Own between Halverson and president of the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education president Ali Muldrow on November 10.)

Overcoming Cultural Mismatch: Reaching and Teaching Diverse Children

Author: Abigail Fuller | Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers


This book contains content both for classroom teachers and school administrators attempting to address inequities on a micro- and a macro-level. Author Abigail Fuller’s professional background is in special education and K-12 administration.

Street Data: A Next-Generation Model for Equity, Pedagogy, and School Transformation

Authors: Shane Shafir, Jamila Dugan | Publisher: Corwin


Scholars and leadership coaches Shane Safir and Jamila Dugan unpack an alternate model for measuring academic achievements in low income areas and/or schools with predominantly diverse student populations by re-evaluating district policies and what types of data is assumed to have qualitative value.