Diversity In Children's Literature

Dr. Mary-Kate Sableski created an experiential learning activity that helped students evaluate the extent to which diversity is represented in children's literature. Specifically, her EDT 453 class, composed of Intervention Specialist Education majors, focused on the ways in which disabilities are represented in children's literature. Students were able to apply this knowledge to the development of a list of core books to be purchased for use in their clinical experiences in the fall, 2018 term. During this clinical experience, the students will use the literature they identified in literacy intervention lessons with first grade students at Holy Angels school. 

Sableski was awarded $200 by the ELIFF grant to help her students practice key professional skills they will need as classroom teachers. These skills included identifying, selecting, and purchasing culturally relevant, diverse literature reflective of the experiences of the students in their classrooms. In this activity, students worked collaboratively to create the list of books, using databases, internet resources, and professional recommendations from librarians and teachers to insure a diverse selection of titles. Part of the curriculum for this course included visits to five different school sites throughout the term. During these visits, students surveyed classrooms for literature recommendations and engage in conversations with teachers and students in the field regarding diverse children's literature. The end result of this collaborative, immersive experience in literature selection was the application of selected literature with first grade students to advance their literacy skills through the use of diverse literature. 

Experiential Learning is not as rich without a specific time set for reflection. The students reflected on the process through collaborative conversations in class, which were structured at multiple levels of the reflective process, including individual, small group, and whole group conversation. Conversing at multiple levels helped the students to get the most out of the reflective process. Online threaded discussions were also utilized to continue the conversation on diverse literature outside of class. Students maintained a reflection notebook in which they completed journal entries documenting their impressions of the diverse literature and the process of selecting and purchasing children's literature.