story by Claire Miller
How can educators ensure that the books they’re using accurately reflect their students’ experiences and the world around them?
Associate Professor Thomas Crisp has spent the last five years working with colleagues Suzanne Knezek from the University of Michigan-Flint and Roberta Price Gardner from Kennesaw State University on a book to address representation in children’s literature and the use of nonfiction and informational texts in K-8 classrooms.
Their edited volume, “Reading and Teaching with Diverse Nonfiction Children’s Books: Representations and Possibilities,” published by the National Council of Teachers of English, will serve as a resource for scholars of children’s literature, librarians, media specialists, teachers and teacher educators who are interested in incorporating authentic nonfiction literature into their work.
“The book is grounded in our shared belief that issues of literary representation matter,” Crisp said. “With the existence of so many exemplary children’s nonfiction books, researchers and educators can move beyond limited or problematic depictions and utilize quality books that accurately and authentically represent the world in which we live. They can provide young readers with opportunities to see themselves and the people they love in multiple, nuanced and affirming ways.”
The book’s chapters offer guidelines for evaluating nonfiction books, connections to primary resources and relevant texts, and other important information that can aid educators in creating classrooms and curriculum that support all students.
“We hope our readers will feel empowered to center the histories, lives and cultures of all people – particularly those who have historically been marginalized, unrepresented or misrepresented in K-8 education,” Crisp said.