Every society, or culture, has a basic background of information that all its members share. These may consist of stories, visual images, sounds or music, history and legends, and even current news. Knowledge of this information is known as cultural literacy.
Everyone within a culture has some degree of cultural literacy. For example, we all know what MTV is, and when we hear that name we think of music, videos, and perhaps some of the people or programs that this network shows. When we hear the words nine-eleven, it brings up different images and feelings; this was an event that impacted everyone in our society.
It is not difficult to improve, or develop, your sense of cultural literacy. Doing so is a personal choice, and it is a project that can be approached in many different ways. Developing your own sense of cultural literacy is a project that can last a lifetime. The lists and programs provided here are suggestions only; you can certainly develop your own program, or find one elsewhere, or simply read books or see films randomly.
There are currently three lists available:
The Reading List includes books in several categories, including fiction, non-fiction, biography, and drama.
The Films List includes titles and brief annotations of the films that help define the American culture.
The Children's Books List includes "chapter" books that help form the background literacy commonly associated with an American childhood.