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Reading to Make a Difference

Using Literature to Help Students Speak Freely, Think Deeply, and Take Action

By Lester L. Laminack, Katherine Kelly

Books as bridges enable readers to speak freely, think deeply, and take action.  In Reading to Make a Difference, Lester and Katie build on the work of Rudine Sims Bishop, extending the notion of books as windows, mirrors, and doors. They show you how to move beyond exposing your students to diverse children’s literature by offering an instructional framework that is applicable to any topic and can be adapted to your own classroom or community.

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"This book is a gift to teachers who want to know how best to incorporate diverse literature into their classrooms. It translates rhetoric about diverse books into practical actions. Teachers will find it a valuable resource, full of examples of actual classroom practices and questions for reflecting, as well as suggestions of good books to share with students. It takes the study of diverse texts well beyond the “food, festivals and folklore” focus of the early days of attention to multicultural literature to a consideration of literature as a catalyst for social action. The thematic emphases for the chapters are broad enough to apply to texts that represent diverse cultures, but specific enough to work in diverse classrooms, from elementary school to the college level."

— Rudine Sims Bishop, Professor Emerita of Education at The Ohio State University

"In far too many schools, our effort to be more inclusive begins and ends with book selection. In Reading to Make a Difference, Lester and Katie teach us that this is not enough. This book is an urgent reminder that even the most powerfully diverse bookshelf cannot mask the damage done to children by practices and curriculum that fails to see them. Reading to Make a Difference shows us how to combine powerful books with purposeful, equitable practice."

— Cornelius Minor

Books as bridges enable readers to speak freely, think deeply, and take action. In Reading to Make a Difference, Lester and Katie build on the work of Rudine Sims Bishop, extending the notion of books as windows, mirrors, and doors. They offer a pathway that can lead students to take action for social justice causes. They show you how to move beyond exposing your students to diverse children’s literature by offering an instructional framework that is applicable to any topic and can be adapted to your own classroom or community. Lester and Katie will show you how to:

  • select and share text sets in a variety of reading experiences including read-aloud, small group, book clubs, and independent reading
  • creating a scaffold for students to share their connections with a character, situation, issue, or topic
  • invite students to pause and reflect
  • provide opportunities for students to take action individually or collectively in a way that can make a difference. 

Each chapter highlights different classrooms in action and concludes with a wealth of suggested resources, both picture books and chapter books, along with helpful guidelines on how to choose text sets that reflect the needs, interests, and backgrounds of your students.

The right book at the right time can open doors of possibility for a better world. Armed with an understanding of who your students are, where they come from, and what matters to them, you can cultivate children as thoughtful, caring citizens, and empower them to become lifelong agents of change.

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Podcast

Contents

CONTENTS

Online Videos 

Acknowledgments 

Introduction: Bridging Understanding of Ourselves and Others 

Books as Mirrors

Books as Windows 

Books as Doors 

Getting Started 

Creating Spaces to Speak Freely 

Framework 

Selection

Connection 

Reflection 

Action 

Next Steps 

What You’ll Find in This Book 

Who We Are 

CHAPTER 1 Discovering Our Own Identities 

Voices from the Classroom 

Selection 

Connection 

Reflection 

Action 

Next Steps 

Alternate Grade Example: Kindergarten 

Alternate Grade Example: First Grade

Suggested Resources 

CHAPTER 2 Making Unlikely Friends 

Voices from the Classroom 

Selection 

Connection 

Reflection 

Action 

Next Steps 

Alternate Grade Example: First Grade 

Suggested Resources 

CHAPTER 3 Coping with Loss 

Voices from the Classroom

Selection 

Connection 

Reflection 

Action 

Next Steps 

Alternate Grade Example: Third Grade 

Suggested Resources 

CHAPTER 4 Crossing Borders

Voices from the Classroom 

Selection 

Connection 

Reflection

Action 

Next Steps 

Alternate Grade Example: Fourth Grade 

Suggested Resources 

CHAPTER 5 Advocating for Change 

Voices from the Classroom 

Selection 

Connection 

Reflection 

Action 

Next Steps 

Contents 

Alternate Grade Example: Fifth Grade 

Suggested Resources 

CHAPTER 6 Sharing When You Have Little to Give 

Voices from the Classroom 

Selection 

Connection 

Reflection 

Action 

Next Steps 

Alternate Example: A Different Third-Grade Classroom 

Suggested Resources 

CHAPTER 7 Honoring Others 

Voices from the Classroom 

Selection 

Connection 

Reflection 

Action 

Next Steps 

Alternate Grade Example: Fifth Grade 

Suggested Resources 

CHAPTER 8 Lending a Helping Hand 

Voices from the Classroom 

Selection 

Connection 

Reflection 

Action 

Next Steps 

Alternate Grade Example: First Grade 

Alternate Grade Example: Third Grade 

Suggested Resources 

References 

Samples

Companion Resources

Poster 1 Poster 3 Poster 5 Poster 6
 

Related PD Services

PD Resources From Lester L. Laminack

Speakers

Workshops

PD Resources From Katherine Kelly

Workshops