Celebrating Cultural Literacy With Our Libraries

Have you ever checked out a book from the library and discovered a new-to-you tradition? Have you ever attended a library program sharing cultural activities that your family does at home? These experiences are a type of cultural literacy.

Cultural literacy is the understanding of a culture’s heritage, traditions, art, history and more. The Asian Pacific American Librarians Association, opens a new window and the American Indian Library Association, opens a new window Talk Story, opens a new window program also specifies that cultural literacy reflects a family’s everyday experiences of their heritage. Some examples of this include hearing words or familiar phrases from a family’s culture or eating a meal from a family recipe. Other ways to encourage cultural literacy at home include experiencing family traditions passed down from previous generations or reading bilingual stories together.

Cultural literacy also helps children learn about different cultures and relate to others from diverse backgrounds. One way to practice diverse cultural literacy is through food and the various ways to make similar dishes. The book Empanadas for Everyone by Jackie Azúa Kramer follows Carina through her diverse neighborhood to find ingredients for empanadas as she encounters foods that are similar, like samosas and dumplings. What is one family dish that you like to eat? Are there similar dishes to it from another culture?

Another way to practice diverse cultural literacy is through celebrations. There are some celebrations that families already do together, like celebrating the arrival of spring. Different communities worldwide celebrate spring through Holi, Nowruz or the Spring Equinox. Families may learn about the traditions and origins of a spring celebration and then compare them to their family traditions. What are some of your favorite celebrations and what family traditions do you do during them?

Here are some family friendly reads about different celebrations and traditions worldwide:

Celebrate With Me!

It's Holi!

Love, Lah Lah

The Night Before Eid

A Persian Passover

Why We Dance

San Mateo County Libraries also has a wide variety of books in languages from around the world for families to explore! This Spanish book is about Festival de Colores de India, Holi written by Grace Hansen and translated by Maria Puchol. Check out which languages are available at your local library.