RM Winter 2016 FLIP

First, I recommend using course texts centered on critical literacy with young learners. For instance, I am now using Silvers and Shorey’s (2002) “ Many Texts, Many Voices: Teaching Literacy and Social Justice to Young Learners in the Digital Age ” as a core text in my university classroom. This text has been instrumental for my students’ expanded view of literacy learning. I particularly appreciate how Silvers and Shorey expand Luke and Freebody’s (1999) Four Resources Model in relation to an expanded critical curriculum (p.18). Silvers and Shorey also describe and explain, in a highly readable and clear manner, how classroom teachers can facilitate “learning to live responsibly in a critical community of practice” (p. 9). Overall, this text is a wonderful resource for what critical literacy may look like and sounds like in a first grade standards-based classroom. Second, I recommend including pertinent journal articles to the course readings. For example, consider Stribling’s (2014)’s insightful research about creating a critical literacy milieu in a kindergarten classroom. Her scholarship is helpful for discussing ways the early childhood teachers can “support students to respectfully consider multiple viewpoints, to engage in thoughtful problem solving, and to openly discuss difficult issues revolving around difference” (p. 45). Other important articles to consider are (1) Enriquez and Shulman-Kumin’s (2014) article on using children’s nonfiction for social justice and common core goals; (2) Hughes and Hunt-Barron’s (2011) article on fostering stronger classroom communities through literature focused on disabilities; and (3) Fox and Caloia’s (2011) article about the representation of the father figure in children’s picture books. Third, I recommend incorporating digital social justice book talks , as explained by Hughes and Robertson (2011). These scholars discuss pre-service teachers’ shifting views of critical literacy and the place of critical literacy in the language arts classroom. They also assess the usefulness of digital book talks for engaging pre-service teachers with social justice issues. Fourth, I recommend engaging students in an inquiry- based project about extending a read-aloud as part of the course requirements. This can be done as a small-scale action research project where students select a book and conduct a critical read-aloud (see Meller et al, 2015). I also suggest assigning a reflective paper where students explore what it means to go beyond a pedestrian approach to picture books centered on social justice issues. Concluding Thoughts As we conclude, we reiterate that a pedagogical challenge served as a catalyst for rethinking how to “do more” and “dig deeper” in relation to critical literacy, social justice, and children’s literature. This collaborative narrative represents just one manifestation of the inquiry and reflection process we engaged in after the conference. Both early childhood and university students can be given the opportunity to understand the world around them through the diverse body of children’s literature that is available; to understand that there is more to the world than just the small corner that they

themselves inhabit. In closing, we welcome feedback from readers and invite you to share their own experiences and perspectives around the use of social justice-themed children’s literature in early childhood and university classrooms.


Reading Matters Looking Ahead

Botelho, M. J. & Rudman, M. K. (2009). Critical multicultural analysis of children’s literature: Mirrors, windows, and doors. New York, NY: Routledge.

Chafel, J. A., Seely Flint, A., Hammel, J., & Harpole Pomeroy, K. (2007). Young children, social issues, and critical literacy stories of teachers and researchers. Young Children, 62 (1), 73-81.

Cowhey, M. (2006). Black ants and Buddhists: Thinking critically and teaching differently in the primary grades . Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

Cunningham, K. E., & Enriquez, G. (2013). Bridging core readiness with social justice through social justice picture books. New England Reading Association Journal, 48 (2), 28-37, 87. Dever, M., Sorenson, B., & Broderick, J. (2005). Using picture books as a vehicle to teach young children about social justice. Social Studies And The Young Learner , 18 (1), 18-21. Enriquez, G., & Shulman-Kumin, A. (2014). Searching for“truth”: Using children’s nonfiction for social justice and common core goals. Journal of Children’s Literature , 40 (2). 16-25.

Fox, K., & Caloia, R. (2011). Representation of the father figure in children’s picture books. Reading Matters , 12 , 25-31.

Hughes, E. M., & Hunt-Barron, S. (2011). Making connections: Fostering stronger classroom communities through literature focused on disabilities. Reading Matters , 11 , 32-36. Hughes, J. M., & Robertson, L. (2011). Teachers as moral compasses: Exploring critical literacy through digital social justice book talks. Language and Literacy, 13 (2), 23-36.

Kelley, J. E., & Darragh, J. J. (2011). Depictions and gaps: Portrayal of U.S. poverty in realistic fiction children’s picture books. Reading Horizons, 50 (4), 263-282.

Meller, W.B., Richardson, D., & Amos Hatch, J. (2015). Using read-alouds with critical literacy literature in K-3 classrooms. In K. Winograd’s (Ed.) Critical literacies and young learners: Connecting classroom practice to the common core . New York, NY: Routledge. Nieto, S. (2013). Finding joy in teaching students of diverse backgrounds: Culturally responsive and socially just practices in U.S. classrooms. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

O’Neil, K. (2010). Once upon today: Teaching for social justice with postmodern picturebooks. Children’s Literature In Education , 41 (1), 40-51.

Short, K. G., Giorgis, C., & Lowery, R. M. (2013). Books that make a difference: Kids

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