1st Edition

Reading Challenging Texts Layering Literacies Through the Arts

    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    160 Pages
    by Routledge


    Bringing together arts-integrated approaches, literacy learning, and classroom-based research, this book explores ways upper elementary, middle, and high school teachers can engage their students physically, cognitively, and emotionally in deep reading of challenging texts. With a focus on teaching about the Holocaust and Anne Frank’s diary—part of the U.S. middle school literary canon—the authors present the concept of layering literacies as an essential means for conceptualizing how seeing the text, being the text, and feeling the text invite adolescents to learn about difficult and uncomfortable literature and subjects in relation to their contemporary lives. Offering a timely perspective on arts education advocacy, Chisholm and Whitmore demonstrate the vital need to teach through different modalities in order to strengthen students’ connections to literature, their schools, and communities. Accessible strategies are illustrated and resources are recommended for teachers to draw on as they design arts-based instruction for their students’ learning with challenging texts.

    Foreword, by Jeffrey Jamner



    Chapter 1. Layering Literacies for Teaching about Anne Frank and Other Challenging Texts

    Chapter 2. Seeing the Text

    Chapter 3. Being the Text

    Chapter 4. Feeling the Text

    Chapter 5. Begin Reading Challenging Texts by Building Community, by Eileen Landay 

    Chapter 6. A Critical Synthesis of Picturebooks and Adolescent Literature About the Holocaust and Other Challenging Texts, by Renita Schmidt

    Chapter 7. Layering Literacies with Other Challenging Texts

    Chapter 8. Standing Next to Anne Frank: Layering Literacies and Challenging Topics with Respect




    James S. Chisholm is Associate Professor of English Education in the College of Education and Human Development, University of Louisville, USA.

    Kathryn F. Whitmore holds the Ashland/Nystrand Chair of Early Childhood Research and is Director of the Early Childhood Research Center at the University of Louisville, USA.

    "With Reading Challenging Texts: Layering Literacies Through the Arts, James Chisholm and Kathryn Whitmore show us how to enter into ethically answerable engagements with Holocaust literature and other challenging texts in ways that map new lines of seeing, being, and feeling, not only with texts, but with the world. I can’t think of anything more welcome, more important, more urgent for English teachers to do when so many in our world are living in precarity, and when so much of the planet is in peril. Chisholm and Whitmore unchain creativity through multimodal literacies and the promises of transmediation, thereby multiplying the possibilities for relating to the world and for mapping a better one." 

    Karen Spector, Associate Professor, University of Alabama, USA

    "In this age in which instruction is heavily directed by what can be measured, Reading Challenging Texts offers a timely perspective with strong implications for arts education advocacy…..This book is more than a study of successful classroom practices—it is an illuminating contribution to the field of educational research and practice."

    From the Foreword by Jeffrey Jamner, The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, USA

    "Reading Challenging Texts demonstrates the possibilities for deeply engaging challenging texts when students are given space for seeing, being, and feeling in the classroom. The writing is clear, the examples are excellent, and overall, the book synthesizes theories of literacies in an in-depth way while maintaining a closeness to classroom practice."

    Mark A. Sulzer, University of Cincinnati, USA