Teaching Children's Literature : It's Critical! book cover
2nd Edition

Teaching Children's Literature
It's Critical!

ISBN 9781138284265
Published November 15, 2017 by Routledge
300 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Inviting multiple ways of critically engaging with literature, this text offers a fresh perspective on how to integrate children’s literature into and across the curriculum in effective, purposeful ways. Structured around three "mantras" that build on each other—Enjoy; Dig deeply; Take action—the book is rich with real examples of teachers implementing critical pedagogy. The materials and practical strategies focus on issues that impact children’s lives, building from students’ personal experiences and cultural knowledge to using language to question the everyday world, analyze popular culture and media, understand how power relationships are socially constructed, and consider actions that can be taken to promote social justice.

Written for teachers and teacher educators, each chapter opens with three elements that are closely linked: classroom vignettes showcasing the use of literature and inviting conversation; three key principles elaborating the main theme of the chapter and connecting theory with practice; and related research on the topics and their importance for curriculum. Other chapter features include key issues in implementation, suggestions for working with linguistically and culturally diverse students, alternative approaches to assessment, and suggestions for further reading. A companion website to enrich and extend the text includes an annotated bibliography of literature selections, suggested text sets, resources by chapter, and ideas for professional development.

Changes in the Second Edition:

  • Voices from the Field vignettes include examples from inspiring educators who use trade books to promote critical thinking and diversity
  • Updated chapters include information on new technology and electronic resources
  • New references in the principles sections and new resources for further study
  • New children’s books added throughout the chapters as well as to the companion website

Table of Contents



Chapter 1 Introduction: Enjoy! Dig Deeply! Take Action!

Chapter 2 Why Reading Aloud Is Crucial

Chapter 3 Teaching Reading with Literature

Chapter 4 Choosing Books: Diversity Counts

Chapter 5 Language Study: Lingering in Text

Chapter 6 Supporting Literature Discussions

Chapter 7 Books Across the Curriculum: Focused, Author, Illustrator, and Genre Studies

Chapter 8 Multimodal Responses to Literature

Chapter 9 Challenging the Challengers

Chapter 10 Literature Response Strategies

References: Children’s and Adolescent Literature

References: Professional Publications


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Christine H. Leland is Professor of Literacy, Culture, and Language Education at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, USA.

Mitzi Lewison is Professor of Literacy, Culture, and Language Education at Indiana University, Bloomington, USA.

Jerome C. Harste is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Language, Literacy, and Culture at Indiana University, Bloomington, USA.


"If you are searching for a children’s literature text that speaks to issues beyond what is effective literature, this is the text that you should include in your teaching. Leland, Lewison and Harste have created a text that is practical and relies on sound research to provide a pathway to building connections with literature."

Kevin Cordi, Ohio Northern University, USA

"This text celebrates the potential of children’s literature to encourage readers to engage in the reading process, to think critically, to sort through ideas, and act on them. Theory and practice are grounded in pedagogy that puts the reader at the center of the process, enjoying the adventure with high quality literature across the curriculum."

Denise H. Stuart, The University of Akron, USA

"Teaching Children’s Literature: It’s Critical! is a must read. The authors cleverly combine research, theory, and strategies that support classrooms filled with students who love reading, read critically, and use knowledge to advocate for equity."

Lunetta Williams, University of North Florida, USA