1st Edition

Sustaining Cultural and Disability Identities in the Literacy Classroom, K-6

By Amy Tondreau, Laurie Rabinowitz Copyright 2025
    400 Pages 126 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    400 Pages 126 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Ideal for literacy methods and elementary instruction courses, this book brings together three strands of educational practice—Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy (CSP), Disability Sustaining Pedagogy (DSP), and balanced literacy—to present a cohesive, comprehensive framework for literacy instruction that meets the needs of all learners. Situating balanced literacy instruction within the current debate on how to best teach elementary school literacy, this book prepares pre-service and in-service teachers to work with racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse students of all abilities and disabilities and addresses effective curriculum design, lesson planning and assessment. Chapters offer real-world classroom examples and lesson plans, charts, and discussion guides for CSP/DSP-infused instruction for each component of a balanced literacy instructional block.

    Part 1: Asset-based Approaches to Balanced Literacy Instruction  1 Culturally Sustaining Literacy Pedagogy and Literacy Instruction  2 Disability Sustaining Pedagogy  3 Integrating Assest-Based Approaches with Balanced Literacy Instruction Part 2: Cross-Pollinated Literacy Teaching Practices  4 Getting to Know Your Students as Literate Individuals  5 Accessible and Responsive Whole Class Instruction  6 Small Group Instruction  7 Word Work Through a CSP/DSP Lens  8 Individualized Instruction


    Dr. Amy Tondreau is an Assistant Professor of Elementary Literacy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She holds an Ed.D. in Curriculum & Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University, an M.Ed. in Reading from Rhode Island College, and a B.A. in Elementary Education and Communications from Boston College. She previously worked as a staff developer and writer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, as co-director of the Summer Literacy Clinic at Rhode Island College, and as an elementary classroom teacher in Massachusetts. Her research focuses on teachers’ and students’ literacy identities, critical literacy in children’s literature and writing pedagogy, professional learning communities, and the cross-pollination of Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy and Disability Sustaining Pedagogy in literacy teaching and learning. Her work has been published in forums such as The Reading Teacher, Studying Teacher Education, and Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education. 


    Laurie Rabinowitz, EdD, MSEd, MA, is an Assistant Professor of Education Studies at Skidmore College. Prior to working at Skidmore, she was a faculty member in Literacy and Reading at Bank Street College of Education. She has also taught courses at Teachers College, Columbia University, Barnard College, New York University, Hunter College, and LIU Brooklyn and has supervised student teachers at Teachers College, Columbia University. Previously, she was a special education teacher at a public school in New York City. She has also worked as a Director of Instruction at a New York City charter school.

    She holds a doctoral degree in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research looks at inclusive practices and the intersections of literacy and inclusive pedagogy. Rabinowitz holds an MA in Education Leadership from New York University and an MS in Special Education from Hunter College. She earned her undergraduate degree in Art History from Barnard College.

    How can the elementary literacy classroom be (re)organized to center student identities and ensure full access for students with disabilities?  Drawing on the lived experiences of teachers with disabilities, Rabinowitz and Tondreau bring together culturally sustaining pedagogy and disability studies in education, offering Disability Sustaining Pedagogy as framework for reimagining the elementary school literacy classroom in more inclusive, humanizing, and accessible ways. Offering rich examples of Disability Sustaining Pedagogy in practice, this timely book sheds light onto possibilities and offers powerful pathways for upholding every child’s right to literacy in the elementary school classroom. 

    -Mariana Souto-Manning, President, Erikson Institute 


    By centering students who are perceived by institutional norms to be disabled or culturally and linguistically different, Rabinowitz and Tondreau offer a different take on teaching literacy. The balanced literacy approach described here adapts to the different ways of being, acting and making meaning of ALL students, as it is infused with culturally- and disability-sustaining pedagogical practices. The result is a rich cornucopia of practices, for both whole class and group instruction, embedded in a theoretical approach that is unapologetic about its commitment to students themselves as creative and critical literate beings.  

    - Ofelia García, Professor Emerita, The Graduate Center, City University of New York 


    Sustaining Cultural and Disability Identities in the Literacy Classroom, K-6 stands tall as a beacon of inclusive practices, illuminating pathways for literacy instruction that address disability as culture(s) and identities. Departing from traditional medical models of teaching literacy, this transformative text not only educates but also empowers educators, guiding them to create classroom environments where every racial, ethnic, and ability background is not just acknowledged but valued and sustained. For teachers and teacher educators committed to fostering true inclusivity, this book is an indispensable addition to their library.  

    - Federico R. Waitoller, Ph.D. Associate Professor, The University of Illinois at Chicago 


    Laurie and Amy courageously push the current boundaries of knowledge by honoring the voices of many teachers who challenge pervasive deficit-based perceptions that pathologize students, particularly multiply minoritized children. The authors recognize that teachers learn so much from their students and can capitalize upon children’s cultural backgrounds, identities, and strengths. Moreover, this book is long overdue in a profession that remains uneasy about recognizing disability as an integral aspect of a student’s intersectional identity. By viewing disability primarily in cultural terms as opposed to medicalized, the authors illustrate disability as a form of human diversity worth sustaining. 

    - David J. Connor, Professor Emeritus, Hunter College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York