Educating for Critical Democratic Literacy : Integrating Social Studies and Literacy in the Elementary Classroom book cover
1st Edition

Educating for Critical Democratic Literacy
Integrating Social Studies and Literacy in the Elementary Classroom

ISBN 9781138813755
Published April 1, 2015 by Routledge
158 Pages - 44 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Educating for Critical Democratic Literacy educates pre and in-service elementary school teachers in teaching four key civics concepts through social studies and literacy integration. Written together by both literacy and social studies experts, it is based on a conceptual revision of the notions of civic education and critical literacy called "Critical Democratic Literacy" (CDL). The authors’ dual expertise allows them to effectively detail the applications of their knowledge for teachers, from lesson conception to implementation to assessment.

Part I explains the theory and basic principles of CDL and provides background information on the role of democracy in education. Part II consists of four sample lessons designed using the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) C3 Framework and the Common Core State Standards for English/Language Arts (CSS ELA) standards. Part III includes a primer explaining the four civic concepts that frame the book. Fully aligned to both the CCSS ELA and NCSS C3 Framework, this timely resource provides future and current teachers with specific lessons and tools, as well as the skills to develop their own rigorous, integrated units of study.

Table of Contents

Part I: Understanding Critical Democratic Literacy. Chapter 1: Educating for Critical Democratic Literacy. Chapter 2: Critical Democratic Literacy: Fostering Informed Resilient Engagement in a Democratic Society. Part II: Teaching Critical Democratic Literacy. Chapter 3: What Can I do to be a Good Citizen? A Kindergarten Unit on Civic Virtue. Chapter 4: When and How Should I Get Involved in Civic Life? A Third Grade Unit on Civic Engagement. Chapter 5: How Should I Talk about Important Civic Issues? A Fourth Grade Unit on Civil Discourse. Chapter 6: What Can I Do When a Law is Unjust? A Fifth Grade Unit on Civil Disobedience. Part III: Implementing Critical Literacy. Chapter 7: Critical Democratic Literacy: Key Concepts & Pedagogy. Chapter 8: Critical Democratic Literacy: Resources for Application & Implementation.

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Kathryn M. Obenchain is an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at Purdue University.

Julie L. Pennington is an associate professor of Literacy Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno.


Educators across the United States can identify with the neglect of social studies and civics in elementary schools because of high-stakes testing and accountability 'reforms'. This important book is a major step towards rectifying the problem. The emphasis on Critical Democratic Literacy, which integrates social studies and literacy, is an excellent balance of the theoretical and the practical. It should be a tremendously helpful resource to both practicing and preservice elementary teachers who must prioritize literacy but who also care about their role in working with our young 'citizens in training'.

Elizabeth Yeager Washington, Professor of Social Studies Education, University of Florida, and Senior Fellow, The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship 

This book offers solid ground for pre-service teachers, in-service teachers, and teacher educators as we navigate social studies' hopefully central place in the curriculum. By pinpointing relevant standards and clear classroom examples and merging critical literacy with democracy education, this book offers inspires a new future of elementary social studies by reviving our democratic ideals.

Stephanie Cayot Serriere, Associate Professor of Education, The Pennsylvania State University