©2000 National Council for the Social Studies. All rights reserved.

Resources for Teaching About the Caribbean


Toni Fuss Kirkwood

The Caribbean: Cradle, Crossroads and Crucible of the Americas” was the theme of the Second International Conference of National Council for the Social Studies held in Miami, Florida, in 1991. The title captures the unique role the region played and continues to play in shaping the Americas. Yet stereotypes about Caribbean people abound in a sea of misconceptions that have inaccurately defined its inhabitants. Their diversity is rooted in the period of colonization that shaped a mosaic of distinct cultures.

Teaching about the Caribbean requires well-informed teachers able to select authentic resources that do justice to a region shaped by geopolitical forces, class structure, interracial blending, and the long attempt to achieve both national and regional autonomy. Although there is a need to develop more creative and comprehensive teaching materials, there already exist many excellent resources and organizations to aid educators in teaching about the Caribbean. The following list highlights some of the most useful.


Outreach Centers for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Outreach centers offer a plethora of resources on loan to schools: books, children’s literature, curriculum guides, games and simulations, directories, filmstrips and slide sets, maps, indigenous music, poster sets, software, traveling suitcases, videos, and movie-length films. Some centers also offer an outreach resource catalog, newsletters, speakers’ bureaus, workshops and lectures, special summer institutes, and school visit programs to educational institutions within their reach.


Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs

University of Connecticut Center of Latin American
Caribbean Studies
843 Bolton Road
Storrs, CT 06269

phone: 860-486-0488; fax: 860-486-2963

website: www.maxwell.syr.edu/geo/clasp/clasp.htm

CLASP Notes is a newsletter providing information on college and university outreach programs for K-12 teachers, upcoming professional development opportunities, and activities of the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs.


Florida International University

Latin American and Caribbean Center

University Park (DM 353), Miami, FL 33199

phone: 305-348-2894; fax: 305-348-3593

website: lacc.fiu.edu/centers


Indiana University

Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

313 N. Jordan Avenue

Bloomington, Indiana 47405

phone: 812-855-9097; fax: 812-855-5345

website: www.indiana.edu/~clacs


Michigan State University

Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

206 Center for International Programs

East Lansing, MI 48824

phone: 517-353-1690; fax: 517-353-7254

website: www.isp.msu.edu/CLACS


New York University

Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

53 Washington Square South, Room 311

New York, NY 10012

phone: 212-998-8686; fax: 212-995-4163

website: www.nyu.edu/gsas/program/latin


State University of New York

Latin American and Caribbean Studies Center

Social and Behavioral Science Building North 335

Stony Brook, NY

phone: 516-632-7517; fax: 516-632-9234

website: www.sinc.sunysb.edu/lacc


University of Connecticut

Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

843 Bolton Road, U-161

Storrs, CT 06269-1161

phone: 860-486-4964; fax: 860-486-2963

website: vm.uconn.edu/~wwwlams


University of Florida

Center for Latin American Studies

P.O. Box 115530, 319 Grinter Hall

Gainesville, FL 32611-5530

phone: 352-392-0375; fax: 352-392-7682

website: www.latam.ufl/outreach.htm


University of Texas at Austin

Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS)

Sid Richardson Hall 1.310

Austin, TX 78712

phone: 512-471-5551; fax: 512-471-3090

website: lanic.utexas.edu/ilas


University of Illinois

Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

201 International Studies Building

910 South Fifth Street

Champaign, IL 61820

phone: 217-333-3182; fax: 217-244-7333

website: www.uiuc.edu/unit/lat


Tulane University

Latin American Curriculum Resource Center

100 Jones Hall

6823 St. Charles Avenue

New Orleans, LA 70118-5698

phone: 504-862-3143; fax: 504-865-6719

website: www.tulane.edu/~clas



The following publishers offer a variety of resources providing current information on the cultures, economy, history, and politics of the Caribbean.


Center for Teaching International Relations (CTIR)

University of Denver

22-1 S. Gaylord Street

Denver, CO 80208

phone: 303-871-3106; fax: 303-871-2906

website: www.du.edu/ctir


David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies

Brigham Young University

Provo, UT 84602

Phone: 801-378-6528

website: ucs.byu.edu/kenncent/publications

Note: CulturGrams on Caribbean and Latin American countries in notebook format are particularly useful in providing a thumbnail sketch of individual countries.




Sluice Dock

Guilford, CT 06437

phone: 800-243-6532; fax: 203-435-6000

website: www.dushkin.com

Note: Global Studies: Latin America is updated annually and gives an excellent overview of the region’s countries.


SPICE: Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education

Stanford University

Littlefield Center, Room 14C

Stanford, CA 94305

phone: 800-578-1114; fax: 650-723-6784

website: www.iis.stanford.edu


Social Studies School Service

10200 Jefferson Boulevard, P.O. Box 802

Culver City, CA 90232

phone: 800-421-4246; fax: 800-944-5432

website: www.socialstudies.com


Upper Midwest Women’s History Center

749 Simpson Street

St. Paul, MN 55104

phone: 612-644-1717; fax: 612-644-3350

website: www.hamline.edu/~umwhc


World Eagle

111 King Street

Littleton, MA 01460

phone: 800-854-8273; fax: 978-486-9642

website: www.worldeagle.com



Curriculum Resource Guides and Monographs for Teachers



Ascheri, G. Festejemos! East Lansing: Michigan State University, Center for Latin and Caribbean Studies, l992.

A calendar of holidays, festivals, and commemorative events. All ages.


Bigelow, B., et. al. Rethinking Columbus: Teaching About the 500th Anniversary of Columbus’ Arrival in America. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools, in collaboration with the Network of Educators on Central America, l991.

Short readings on issues for elementary and secondary levels including background articles, historical documents, and resources.


Billings, M. Art and Music from Around the World. North
Billerica, MA: Curriculum Associates, l993.

Includes arts from Haiti and Cuba. Upper elementary grades.



Burgie, I. Caribbean Carnival: Song of West Indies, Volume 1. New York: Tambourine Books, 1992.

Vibrant collection of 13 original songs from the West Indies. Grades K-8.


Charles, F. A Caribbean Counting Book. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1996.

Counting rhymes from nine Caribbean nations.


Gallagher, D.D. Caribbean Connections: Literature Links to Social Studies. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida, 1992.

Introduction to children’s literature from the Caribbean.


Hallworth, G. Down by the River: Afro-Caribbean Rhymes, Games, and Songs for Children. New York: Scholastic, 1996.

Illustrated Afro-Caribbean traditions from jump rope rhymes to hand-clapping games.


Network of Educators on Central America. Redescubriendo America/Rediscovering America. Washington, DC: l992.

A collection of poetry and prose by major Latin American and Caribbean writers. All grades.


Stevens, G. Children of the World. Milwaukee: G. Stevens Publishing, l990.

Each book in this series traces the daily life of a child living in a particular country, in urban and rural settings. Covers countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.



Burns, R.S. Exploring the Developing World. Denver, CO: CTIR, University of Denver, l993.

Unit plans covering Latin America and Africa with focus on community, news, population, war, trade liberalization, and the environment.


Bermudez, P., and B. Cruz. Latin America and the Caribbean in the 21st Century. Miami, FL: Florida International University, l997.

Lesson plans to increase awareness and understanding of global issues and trends within the Latin American context. Grades 7-12.


Gibbs, V. Latin America: Curriculum Materials for the Middle Grades. Milwaukee: Center for Latin America, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, l989.

Teacher-created lessons on Latin America and the Caribbean. Grades 6-9.


Malkasian, M. and L. Davidson. In the Shadow of the World War: The Caribbean and Central America in U.S. Foreign Policy. Providence, RI: Chices Education Project, l993.

Analysis of the historical and current role of the U.S. in the Caribbean, including lesson plans and simulation-type learning activities. Grades 9-12.



Menkart, D., and C.A. Sunshine, eds. Caribbean Connections: Overview of Regional History. Washington, DC: EPICA and NECA Publishers, l991.

A unit plan on the history, geography, and arts of the Caribbean. Grades 9-12.


Roberts, J.S. Black Music of Two Worlds: African, Caribbean, Latin, and African-American Traditions. New York: Schirmer Books, 1998.

Describes the evolutionary process of musical blending from three continents.


Sunshine, C.A., and D. Menkart, eds. Caribbean Connections: Classroom Resources for Secondary Schools: Jamaica. Washington, DC: EPICA and NECA, l991.

An illustrated collection of Jamaican oral hstories, interviews, poetry, drama, and songs. Grades 9-12.


—————. Caribbean Connections: Classroom Resources for Secondary Schools: Puerto Rico. Washington, DC: EPICA and NECA, l991.

Stories, songs, interviews, and poetry bring Puerto Rican voices to the classroom Grades 9-12.


Theodore, C. How Do You Say ... in Creole? Gainesville, FL: University of Florida, l991.

Useful expressions and common phrases in English, French, and Haitian Creole.



Children’s Literature



Gunning, M., and F. Vandenbroeck. Under the Breadfruit Tree: Island Poems. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press, 1998.

Poems, infused with Jamaican dialect, about growing up in Jamaica.


Isadora, R. Caribbean Dream. Publishing Group, 1998.

A read-aloud book capturing the mood of an island and the spirit of children.


Lessac, F. Caribbean Canvas. New York: Lippincott, 1994.

Collection of poems and proverbs by West Indian writers.


Moreton, D. A Caribbean Folktale. Turtle Books, 1997.

Traditional folktale about a cockroach.


San Souci, D.D., R.D. San Souci, and C.C. Perrault. Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998.

A Caribbean fairy godmother sets the record straight about what “really” happened in the famous tale.


Taylor, T. Timothy and the Cay. Avon Press, 1991.

In this poignant story about overcoming prejudice about race and age, a European American teen depends on the help of an Afro-Caribbean old man for survival.


Young Adult Books

Benitez-Rojo, A. A View from the Mangrove. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1998.

Masterful collection of short stories by a celebrated Cuban writer.


Cruz, B.C. Ruben Blades: Salsa Singer and Social Activist. Springfield, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 1997.

Traces the life of the talented performer, social activist, and politician.


—————. Raul Julia: Actor and Humanitarian. Springfield, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 1997.

Explores the life of the extraordinary Puerto Rican film and stage actor who fought for humanitarian and social causes.


Dolan, E., Jr., and M. Scariano. Cuba and the United States: Troubled Neighbors. New York: Franklin Watts, l987.

Traces the history of relations between Cuba and the United States from the revolutionary war to the present. Illustrated. Grades 7-12.

? Gonzales, D. Gloria Estefan. Springfield, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 1995.

Describes the success story of the talented Cuban singer and songwriter.


Lieberman, L. Dark Songs: Slave House and Synagogue Poems. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1996.

A poet’s reminder of the long history of the Caribbean.


Rogozinski, J. A Brief History of the Caribbean: From Arawak to the Present. New York: Meridian Books, 1994.

Focuses on the historical forces that have shaped the Caribbean.


Satterfield, Doran J. and C. Stade. Road Well Traveled: Three Generations of Cuban American Women. Newton, MA: WEEA Publishing Center, l988.

Tells the intriguing stories of women who emigrated from Cuba to the United States and their determination in the face of difficulties. Grades 9-college.



Embassies can be a wonderful resource for current information, promotional materials, and useful contacts in individual nations. Links to all embassies located in Washington, D.C. (which includes most Caribbean countries) can be found by visiting www.embassy.org/embassies on the web.