Sample text for The new first dictionary of cultural literacy : what your child needs to know / edited by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. ; associate editors, William G. Rowland, Jr. and Michael Stanford.
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Preface to the Third Edition
This new, updated edition reflects important changes that have occurred in
the world since 1991, changes in history, science, and the arts that have
become part of our common awareness, such as Harry Potter, the Persian
Gulf War, El Niño, global warming, DVDs, laptop computers, and the recently
named Southern Ocean.
Most of the entries that appeared in the 1989 edition still appear
here, illustrating how durable literate culture is and how valid was the idea
that gave rise to this book: namely, that we can communicate with one
another in our national community only because we continue to share and
take for granted the knowledge that we hold in common. To possess this
shared knowledge is to be a member of the cultural community -- to be an
insider. Not to possess it is to be excluded from full communication with
other members of the community -- to be an outsider. In our democracy we
want all children to have the opportunity to be insiders. That is why we have
made this book.
That is also why my colleagues and I started the Core Knowledge
Foundation (www.coreknowledge.org), whose mission is to bring this
knowledge to all children through our schools. The entries in this book
overlap with the topics studied in the early grades in Core Knowledge
The overlap of the topics in this book with the topics studied in
good schools is especially important today, when schools, under the
influence of the national No Child Left Behind Act, are spending more and
more classroom time trying to improve children"s reading abilities. For
children to understand writings in textbooks, magazines, books, and
newspapers, they must possess the background knowledge that such
writings take for granted. Cultural literacy and literacy are intertwined.
Knowing the information contained in this book is a big step toward being a
good reader and being a full participant in our society.
Copyright © 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Reprinted by permission of
Houghton Mifflin Company.
Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Children's encyclopedias and dictionaries.