The Oklahoma Reader 58-1 Spring 2022

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ISSN 2640-1649 (online) ISSN 0030-1833 (print)

VOLUME NO. 58 // ISSUE 1 // SPRING 2022



Finding inspiration through reading and writing

Contents 3 6 52 54 73 78 82 85 87 88

Editors’ Overview and Insights Letter from the OKLA Chair Prof. Development: Off the Shelf Children’s Literature Collection Research Summary Tech Talk Policy and Advocacy Call for Proposals / Guidelines Leadership Conference Reminder Back Matter

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On the Cover

The photo on the cover of this issue is of Dr. Timothy Rasinski as he was presenting at the Oklahoma Literacy Association Annual Conference in April 2022. When given a choice of photos, Dr. Rasinski chose the one that displayed the instructional routine he and colleagues have developed for teaching Greek and Latin root vocabulary. (Photo by Barbara McClanahan)

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Teaching the Art and Science of Foundational Reading--Phonics to Fluency Timothy Raskinski, Kent State University

The Becoming of Teachers as Passionate Readers: What Makes the Difference? Dana Oliver, Southwestern Oklahoma State University

eBooks vs Print: What's the Difference? Holly Rice, Cameron University

Cultivating Social Justice During Interactive Readaloud Focusing on Multiple Perspectives Nicole Pearce, Texas A&MCommerce University, and Jill M Davis, University of Central Oklahoma

Overview & Insights FROM THE EDITORS Dear Readers, As we were involved in the final processes of putting this issue together, our country—our world— was rocked by events in Uvalde, Texas. Sadly, mass shootings are much too common (witness Buffalo, New York, just ten days earlier), but this one—THIS one—hit home in a way others perhaps have not. As always, there has been the kneejerk reaction to “DO SOMETHING,” and almost everyone has a pet solution. But perhaps, this time, we just need to spend some time doing what Dr. Shelbie Witte suggested on her Twitter feed: “Sit with it.” We need to give ourselves time to grieve, to ask the why and how questions, to look inside ourselves and determine to what extent we share responsibility for where we are as a nation, that this can happen over and over again. Dr. Tim Rasinski took the time to post a staggering list of school shootings on Facebook, most of which we are not even aware of. We don’t pretend to have the answers, but we know that the solution must be multi-faceted and must be the result of deep, unhasty thought processes over time that involve all community stakeholders. In the meantime, given the frame and focus of this journal, we would like to focus on the teachers of Robb Elementary for a moment—not just the two who died literally placing their bodies between the shooter and “their kids,” but the surviving teachers, the ones who will go back into those classrooms in the fall, despite their own emotional turmoil, and pick up where they left off. We can get some idea of what they are experiencing through a Sandy Hook teacher, Mary Ann Jacob, who reported years later after the Sandy Hook shooting, “When those of us who survived went home later that day, the first thing we had to do was be strong for our own children, several of whom also survived the shooting that day . . .” (Kleinman, 2018, n. p.). But what comes next? Susie Ehrens, a Sandy Hook parent whose first grader was completely traumatized by the events she experienced, wanted the best teacher she could find for her daughter to begin second grade. She found her in Abbey Clements, teacher-survivor, who herself reported, “the aftermath of such tragedy is larger and darker than you might imagine. I had to do something to be part of the solution” (Kleinman 2018, n. p.); Clements went on to become an activist in a gun-violence-prevention group but also continues to teach. “Educators teach peace and nonviolence. We teach 3

conflict resolution by talking out problems. This is gun violence prevention too,” she said. Ms. Ehrens reported that after many varied but less than successful approaches to alleviate her daughter’s anxiety, “In the end, beyond family, it was the love of Mrs. Clements, a teacher, that softened my daughter’s heart and opened her mind. In so many ways, Mrs. Clements brought my daughter back to us” (Kleinman, 2018, n. p.). So now, as we “sit with it,” we are pondering, what should we do? Our thoughts turn to Dr. Sue Parsons’ column in this issue. Dr. Parsons has focused a timely column on children’s books related to immigration and refugees across the world, and we can’t avoid making the connection to Uvalde and its proximity to the border. The likelihood is high that some of the children, perhaps even some teachers, affected by the tragedy were indeed refugees and/or immigrants. Toward the end of her piece, Dr. Parsons offers a bulleted list that we share below, which seems to take on new meaning in the aftermath of Uvalde, as we ask how we can help, how we can support traumatized teachers, students, and families. Children, especially, are at risk, needing protection for a safe and productive future. Hope is a powerful, resilient force, as is love. Speaking out and listening to others is an important step in bringing change. Education offers hope but is hard to come by. All human beings are valuable. We can do better.

Our initial intention was to begin this overview with a brief discussion of the feature article by Dr. Timothy Rasinski. When we learned that he would be the featured speaker at our Oklahoma Literacy Association Conference in April, we invited him to write a piece for us, and he graciously agreed. Dr. Rasinski’s engaging writing offers us an overview of his new book with co-authors David Paige and Chase Young, Artfully Teaching the Science of Reading. You certainly will want to delve into this one! We are also thrilled to share with you an article by Dr. Dana Oliver, based on her award-winning dissertation. In “The Becoming of Teachers as Passionate Readers: What Makes the Difference?” Dr. Oliver reports on her findings from qualitative research with preservice teachers that reveal what did or did not encourage them to become passionate readers. Some powerful implications will be found in this article. 4

In our third feature article, Dr. Holly Rice reviews research related to ebooks and print books to provide guidance to teachers in making research-based classroom decisions as to when or whether to use which. We believe you will find the discussion informative. Our Teacher-to-Teacher article for this issue discusses using read-alouds to focus on and teach students about social justice issues. Dr. Nicole Pearce and Dr. Jill Davis offer background for the concept and detailed guidance for teachers to follow. There are additional resources included as well. Our Professional Development book review is offered in this issue by one of our editors, Dr. Maribeth Nottingham. She shares a down-to-earth, practical book that provides a research-based rationale for incorporating graphic novels in classrooms for all ages and then guides teachers with step-by-step instructions for how to do it. All of our columnists are represented in this issue; we’ve already mentioned Dr. Parsons’ excellent collection of children’s books on immigration and refugees. Dr. Linda McElroy presents an intriguing amalgamation of two research articles related to teaching language with science instruction through literature. Newly minted Dr. Shelley Martin-Young is back with an interesting connection of poetry to technology and hints there is more to come. Finally, Dr. Julie Collins reviews education bills that were passed during the current legislative term and provides insight on the Oklahoma Future Teacher Scholarship and Employment Incentive Program. All in all, a very full issue that we hope you enjoy!

Barbara McClanahan, Maribeth Nottingham, Susan Morrison Reference Kleinman, Loren. (2018). 6 Sandy Hook survivors on healing, faith and forgiveness, 6 years later. Huffpost Personal. Retrieved from


Letter from Rebecca Marie Farley Chair, Oklahoma Literacy Association

Greetings, OKLA!!! I hope the school year is wrapping up nicely for you where you serve the literacy community, from working with young children all the way to working with adults! I also hope you get to enjoy at least a few good books during the warmer weather and longer daylight time of the year. What an exciting spring we were able to have with an in-person OKLA Conference full of networking and learning. I want to personally thank all those who worked toward the success of the conference and those who attended. I want to make you aware of another growth opportunity coming this summer. A virtual OKLA Leadership Conference is currently in the planning stages and tentatively set for July 2022. Dr. Linda McElroy, USAO, is securing speakers and will publicize information as it becomes available. Continue to check for updates at and in the OKLA Facebook Group. I encourage you to keep in touch through the Facebook group and share with others important research and professional development opportunities that you are sponsoring or participating in this summer. We are stronger working together to provide excellence in all things literacy. In the last few years, we have witnessed many challenges and overcome many 6

obstacles to facilitate learning and a love of reading through a pandemic, quarantine, isolation, shutdowns, supply and demand issues, teacher shortage, funding deficiencies, ever changing laws and regulations, etc., but now we are rising toward the bright future of promoting literacy for all Oklahomans. I encourage you to continue to work together to provide outstanding literacy education to all of those in the state of Oklahoma and beyond. It has been my great pleasure to serve as the chair of this prestigious group that promotes literacy development for all. I thank you for that opportunity and joy! Dr. Eileen Richardson will begin her tenure as OKLA Chair beginning July 1, 2022. I know that you will continue to support her as you have greatly supported me in all things OKLA. Sharon Morgan, OKC Public Schools, will become OKLA ChairElect and is already busy at work securing location, dates, and speakers for the 2023 OKLA Conference. Liz Willner will continue as Treasurer and Stacy Goodwin will continue as Secretary. Sincerely, Rebecca Marie Farley


Timothy Rasinski Invited Article Teaching the Art and Science of Foundational Reading—Phonics to Fluency Over the past several years an approach to reading instruction has emerged called the Science of Reading (SOR) (Shanahan, 2021). Science of Reading advocates argue that there is now sufficient scientific knowledge about how people read and how people learn to read that instruction in teaching reading should be guided by this science. The genesis for this approach can be traced back to the National Reading Panel (2000), a group of literacy experts who were assigned the task of identifying the science-verified components of reading that are necessary for children to become proficient readers. Nearly every teacher of reading has since become familiar with those components—phonemic awareness, phonics or word decoding, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The concept of the SOR, however, may pose a challenge when it comes to turning the SOR into actionable reading instruction. The Science of Reading is based, to a large extent, on scientific research into the competencies that must be mastered in order to achieve proficiency in reading. However, SOR does not provide much direction into how those competencies should be taught to students (Shanahan, 2021). Very often the implication for instruction is that the SOR competency be taught using approaches that are direct, systematic, and, for students who are struggling, intensive. How does such instruction actually play out in classrooms? What seems to be the result is instruction that may be direct and systematic but involves teachers in reading instructional scripts, students engaged in drill-like activities that do not appear to resemble actual reading, and when permitted to read given “decodable” texts that appear to more resemble passages designed to give students practice in reading certain phonics elements than authentic stories or texts that readers can find enjoyable and take satisfaction in. Take, for instance, the competency of reading fluency. First, scientific research has demonstrated that reading speed as measured by the number of words read correctly on a leveled reading passage is a valid measure of one aspect of fluency called automaticity in word recognition. Studies at various grade levels have found a strong correlation between speed of reading (oral reading fluency—ORF) and overall reading proficiency (Rasinski et al., 2011). Scientific research has also found that assisted reading and repeated reading are valid and effective ways for improving reading fluency, as well as word recognition and comprehension (Rasinski, 2010). Assisted reading occurs when a reader reads a text while simultaneously listening to a fluent reading of the same text. That listening could be from a more fluent reading partner such as a teacher or parent sitting next to the student or even listening to a pre-recorded version of the text. Repeated reading, as the name implies, involves repeated practice of a text until the student is able to read the text at a normal level of fluency. Research has demonstrated


that when students engage in repeated and assisted reading, not only do they improve their performance on the texts practiced, but there is also a generalized improvement on new passages not previously read. These scientific findings—how fluency-automaticity is measured and how fluency can be developed—has led to the development of SOR instructional programs that aim directly to increase reading speed through assisted and repeated reading. Fluency instruction becomes a daily routine in which students engage in assisted and repeated reading for the expressed purpose of reading the text faster with every reading. Indeed, students are assessed regularly, in some cases weekly, in order to check increases in their reading speed. My response to this approach to instruction is that it may be based on science, but to what extent is it based on reality? How often do people at any age practice reading texts for the main purpose of reading the texts fast? Not often. Renowned literacy researcher S. Jay Samuels (2007) has argued that such instruction changes the nature of reading instruction to something akin to “barking at print.” Moreover, the research into fluency instruction approaches such as these do show improvements in students’ reading speed which is then offered as scientific support for the instruction. However, the research on the extent to which such instruction leads to improvement in comprehension and overall reading proficiency and satisfaction is limited at best. Additionally, this approach to teaching fluency neglects another scientifically validated part of fluency—prosody. Prosody involves oral reading with a level of expression that reflects the meaning of the text (Rasinski, 2010). Some have termed prosody the melody of reading. Research has shown that readers who read with good phrasing and expression are more proficient in comprehension in overall reading than readers who read without expression and in a word-by-word staccato style (Rasinski et al., 2011). How is it that young readers can develop their prosodic or expressive reading when the focus on their fluency instruction is on reading as fast as they can? It seems that a focus on speed and a focus on meaningful expression are in opposition to one another. Literacy scholar Tim Shanahan has argued that in addition to the Science of Reading we need a Science of Reading Instruction (Shanahan, 2021). We need to know more than the key competencies and elements involved in proficient reading; we need scientific research to show us instructional approaches to teach these competencies and produce the desired outcomes— proficiency in the individual competency AND in overall reading proficiency. Toward an Art and Science of Reading Instruction I would take Shanahan’s argument a bit further to suggest that we also need scientifically verified approaches to instruction that are also authentic, aesthetic, and that give teachers freedom to use their creativity in designing such instruction, as opposed to following some script or routine. This is what I and my colleagues (Paige, et al., 2021; Young et al., 2022) have come to call the Art and Science of Teaching Reading.


Although it may be easier to define a science of reading instruction than it is an art of reading instruction, I feel that there are three characteristics or principles that make reading instruction artful (Young et al., 2022). First is authenticity—reading instruction should look like reading and reading related activities that are done in real life—outside the classroom. We want students to make the connections between what they are doing in their classroom with what they see happening beyond the classroom walls. If students are unable to make such connections, they are not likely to see the relevance of what they are learning. To what extent do students, or anyone for that matter, see phonics drills or reading speed for fluency activities happening in their lives outside of school? Probably not much, and it is not inappropriate for them to ask why they need to engage in such activities in school if they have little or no relevance outside their classrooms. The second principle of artistic instruction is aesthetics. By aesthetics I refer to the work of Louise Rosenblatt (1978) who argued that reading should be both efferent and aesthetic. At the risk of oversimplifying, efferent reading is essentially reading to learn or to educate the mind. Aesthetic reading, on the other hand, is reading for beauty or to touch the heart. It seems that reading instruction and reading in schools themselves have become increasingly focused on the efferent dimension of reading. The increased focus on informational texts is evidence of this movement. While I acknowledge the importance of efferent reading, I also see the need for reading to be aesthetic. How many of us have had our hearts touched by a favorite song, perhaps a heartfelt poem, or inspiring story. The same type of texts that bring us to tears need also to be shared with students. Children need the same opportunities to have their hearts touched by inspiring words, poetry, songs, famous speeches (e.g., “Gettysburg Address,” “I Have a Dream”) and other such texts. These types of texts, however, seem to have been less emphasized in many current reading programs and classrooms. Artful reading instruction says we need to find ways to bring these into our classrooms and share with students. Third, artistic instruction is defined by creativity. Currently, in many science-oriented reading instruction approaches teachers are taught to teach in very prescribed ways with little room for individuality or creativity. While the science of reading should provide guidance to the overall aims and approaches to reading instruction, artfulness should allow teachers freedom to use their creativity to deliver that instruction in ways that meet the individual needs of students. Moreover, artful instruction should also allow students freedom to express themselves in creative ways themselves. Take for example, the instruction in phonics and word decoding. One scientifically validated approach to such instruction is termed word building (McCandliss et al., 2003). In this approach students are guided in building a series of words by changing, adding, or subtracting one or two letters from the previously made word. An example is to start with the word dog and from there build the following words: dot, pot, pet, pen, pin, pit, hit, hot. The words can be made by manipulating letter tiles and/or having students write the words. Research has shown that


doing this on a regular basis improves students’ phonemic awareness, word decoding, and comprehension. The word building activity is game-like in that it involves manipulation of letters to make words much as one would do in playing word games such as Scrabble, Words with Friends, or, more recently, Wordle. Being the lexophile (word lover) that I am, I decided to take this scientific approach and turn it into a game; the results are daily word ladders (Rasinski, 2005a, 2005b, 2008). A word ladder is a form of word building with the added features of providing students with meaning related clues and making the first and last words go together in some way. For example, here is an example of a word ladder, starting with the word at the top and working down. 1. Dog

Change 1 letter in dog to make what you do with a shovel.

2. Dig

Change 1 letter in dig to make a farm animal that oinks and gives us pork.

3. Pig

Change 1 letter in pig to make a hole in the ground.

4. Pit

Change 1 letter in pit to make what you do in a chair.

5. Sit

Change 1 letter in sit to make what a baseball player does with a bat.

6. Hit

Change 1 letter in hit to make something you wear on your head when the weather is bad.

7. Hat

Add 1 letter to hat to make a word that means to have an informal talk or conversation with someone.

8. Chat

Take away 1 letter from chat to make an animal that dogs typically do not like.

9. Cat In going from dog to cat teachers can guide students in learning and reinforcing the decoding structure, spelling, and meaning to 9 words. Moreover, students find enjoyment in finding out what the last word in the ladder is. Science tells us that word ladders (word building) does produce positive results in reading related competencies. Art tells us that students take enjoyment and satisfaction from playing with and learning about words and language. Art and Science of Teaching Reading Fluency Teachers need to be both artists and scientists in their instruction. How can this happen? Let’s take the critical competency of reading fluency—both scientifically and artfully. Research and reviews of research have demonstrated the importance of reading fluency in developing proficient readers (Rasinski et al., 2011).


Fluency has been described as the necessary bridge from word decoding to comprehension. Automatic word recognition is that part of fluency that connects to word decoding or phonics. It is not sufficient for readers to be able to decode words accurately; they need to be able to decode words effortlessly or automatically. The theory behind automaticity suggests that readers have a limited amount of attention or cognitive resources to apply to the act of reading. If they have to use too much of these resources for word decoding (think of readers who read in an excessively slow and halting manner), they will have less available for comprehension, the goal of reading. As a result, comprehension suffers. However, when word decoding is automatic (think reading that is relatively quick and smooth), readers do not have to employ much of their cognitive resources for word decoding. Those freed-up resources can be devoted to making sense of the text and, as a consequence, comprehension is facilitated. Reading fluency is complicated by a second component—prosody or expression in reading. When reading orally (or silently for that matter) readers use their expression to reflect the meaning of the text. They add dramatic pauses in their reading, they change the tone, the speed, the volume, and the phrasing of the text to reflect the meaning of the text. Prosody, then, is the part of the fluency bridge that connects to comprehension. For in order to read with appropriate expression, a reader needs to be developing and monitoring the meaning of the text while reading. Scientific research has demonstrated that readers who read with high levels of automaticity, as measured by words read correctly per minute, have higher levels of comprehension than readers who demonstrate lower levels of automaticity in their reading. Scientific research has also demonstrated that higher levels of expression or prosody in oral reading is reflected in higher levels of comprehension. In sum, readers who are fluent, who read with good levels of automaticity and prosody, tend to be proficient readers (Rasinski et al., 2011). That’s science! But how do we actually put this scientific knowledge into authentic instructional practice. Too often, the simple solution is to focus on the outcome measures for fluency. If we measure the automaticity component of reading fluency by measuring reading speed, then instruction in fluency becomes focused on having students engage in repeated readings of a text to increase their reading speed. We see this in instructional activities that include timed readings in which students are encouraged to read faster than the day before. How is such practice a measure of real life—authenticity? Where in real life do readers practice their reading in order to increase reading speed? I would answer—“not often.” Moreover, when readers are focused on ever faster reading, how are they able to work on prosodic reading—reading with a level of phrasing and expression that reflects the meaning of the text? It appears that in such an instructional scenario the components of fluency, automaticity and prosody, are incompatible. Let’s take another look at instruction in fluency—artful instruction (Paige, et al., 2021; Young et al., 2022)! Scientific research (Rasinski et al., 2011) tells us that two approaches for


developing fluency are repeated readings and assisted readings. Repeated reading is having students read a text multiple times until they are able to read the text at a level of fluency that approaches that of a proficient reader. In assisted reading, less fluent readers read a text while simultaneously hearing a fluent reading or rendering of the text. That fluent reading can be made by another person (parent, teacher, classroom volunteer), a group of others as in choral reading, or an audio recording of the text made previously. Another, and more artful way, of considering repeated and assisted reading is to think of it as rehearsal. In rehearsal, actors practice (repeated and assisted reading) a text for the purpose of eventually performing the text for an audience. The repeated and assisted practice is not aimed at reading fast but at providing a performance that is sufficiently prosodic to be meaningful and satisfying to an audience. Thus, in this artful form of fluency instruction automaticity is developed by the repeated and assisted rehearsal of text, and prosody is developed by the focus of the repeated and assisted rehearsal that is aimed at delivering a performance that is meaningful and through which expressive interpretation of the text enhances and amplifies the intended meaning. Of course, this leads to an artful question—are there certain texts that are meant to be read/performed orally and expressively for an audience (Young & Nageldinger, 2017)? While informational and narrative texts could certainly be read with expression, they would not be my first choice. Texts such as poetry, song lyrics, speeches, and readers theater scripts are more conducive to rehearsal and performance. If you’ve ever been in a play, recited a poem at a poetry café, or given a speech to an audience my guess is that you rehearsed it. Moreover, your rehearsal wasn’t aimed at reading fast but at reading in such a way as to deliver meaning to those who would be listening to your performance. This notion of rehearsal and performance is a more artful approach to reading fluency instruction. It is authentic in that this type of activity happens in the real world—think theater performances. It is aesthetic in that the texts being performed are those that have the ability to garner an emotional reaction from those performing or listening to the performance (all of us have a certain song or poem that brought us to tears; many of us have attended theatrical plays or listened to a speech that evoked an emotion response). And this approach to fluency instruction offers opportunities for creativity. Teachers and students can write their own poems, songs, or scripts based on material they have previously read or on their own experiences. Moreover, students rehearsing and performing such material have creative license to interpret the texts in various ways through their oral performances. But, equally important, is this notion of rehearsal and performance scientific? Is there evidence that rehearsing and performing in this artful way lead to improved reading? The answer to that question is yes. An ever growing body of research published in peer-reviewed journals has shown that rehearsal and performance leads to improvements in fluency (both automaticity and prosody) as well as reading comprehension and overall reading proficiency (Young & Rasinski, 2009; Young & Rasinski, 2018; Young et al., 2019; Zimmerman et al., 2019). Moreover, the research has demonstrated that this artistic approach to fluency is also


motivating and satisfying for students involved in such instruction. As one student said after being involved in a readers theater program, “I never thought I could be a star, but I was the best reader today” (Martinez et al., 1999). Teaching Reading Must be Scientific and Artful Teaching reading is hard work. A good teacher must be both scientist and artist. Science has already weighed in on what students must develop in order to become proficient readers— phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. The artistic challenge to teachers is to develop instruction that achieves the scientific goals in ways that are aesthetic, authentic, and creative. Rather than hobbling teachers with “scientifically based approaches” that require strict adherence to a curriculum developed by outsiders without regard for individual teaching styles and students’ instructional needs, teachers must be given the professional support AND the artistic freedom to create such instruction. Teaching reading must be considered more than a skill, it must also be recognized as an art. References Martinez, M., Roser, N., & Strecker, S. (1999). “I never thought I could be a star”: A Readers Theatre ticket to reading fluency. The Reading Teacher, 52, 326-334. McCandliss, B., Beck, I., Sandak, R., & Perfetti, C. (2003). Focusing attention on decoding for children with poor reading skills: Design and preliminary tests of the word building intervention. Scientific Studies in Reading, 7, 75-104. National Reading Panel. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching children to read. Report of the subgroups. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health. Paige, D. D., Young, C., Rasinski, T. V., Rupley, W. H., Nichols, W. D., & Valerio, M. (2021). Teaching reading is more than a science: It’s also an art. Reading Research Quarterly, 56(1), S339-S350. Rasinski, T. (2005a). Daily Word Ladders-Grades 2-4. Scholastic. Rasinski, T. (2005b). Daily Word Ladders- Grades 4-6. Scholastic. Rasinski, T. (2008). Daily Word Ladders- Grades 1-2. Scholastic. Rasinski, T. V. (2010). The fluent reader: Oral and silent reading strategies for building word recognition, fluency, and comprehension (2nd ed.). Scholastic. Rasinski, T. V., Reutzel, C. R., Chard, D. & Linan-Thompson, S. (2011). Reading Fluency. In M. L. Kamil, P. D. Pearson, B. Moje, & P. Afflerbach E (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Research, Volume IV (pp. 286-319). Routledge.


Rosenblatt, L. M. (1978). The Reader, the Text, and the Poem: The Transactional Theory of the Literary Work. Southern Illinois University Press. Samuels, S. J. (2007). The DIBELS tests: Is speed of barking at print what we mean by fluency? Reading Research Quarterly, 42, 563-566. Shanahan, T. (2021, Nov 6). What is the Science of Reading? Shanahan on Literacy. Young, C., & Rasinski, T. (2009). Implementing readers theatre as an approach to classroom fluency instruction. The Reading Teacher, 63(1), 4–13. Young, C., & Rasinski, T. (2018). Readers Theatre: effects on word recognition automaticity and reading prosody. Journal of Research in Reading, 41, 475-485. Young, C., Durham, P., Miller, M., Rasinski, T., & Lane, F. (2019). Improving reading comprehension with readers theater. Journal of Educational Research, 112:5, 615-626, doi: 10.1080/00220671.2019.1649240 Young, C., & Nageldinger, J. (2017). Considering the context and texts for fluency: Performance, readers theater, and poetry. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 7(1), 47-56. Retrieved from Young, C., Paige, D., & Rasinski, T. (2022). Artfully Teaching the Science of Reading. Routledge. Zimmerman, B. S., Rasinksi, T. V., Kruse, S. D., Was, C. A., Rawson, K. A., Dunlosky, J., & Nikbakht, E. (2019). Enhancing outcomes for struggling readers: Empirical analysis of the fluency development lesson, Reading Psychology, 40(1), 70-94. doi: 10.1080/02702711.2018.1555365 Dr. Timothy Raskinski is a renowned Professor of Literacy Education at Kent State University and formerly director of its Reading and Writing Development Center. He is past president of the Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers, a member of the International Reading Hall of Fame, and one of the top two percent of scientists worldwide. He can be reached at


Dana Oliver

The Becoming of Teachers as Passionate Readers: What Makes the Difference?

Introduction & Pertinent Background Teachers should be readers who engage in personal reading, are highly involved in their students’ literary experiences, and are able to recommend high quality children’s books to students (International Literacy Association, 2018a). The development of teachers who serve as literacy partners to K-12 students begins in the teacher preparation program (International Literacy Association, 2018b). Yet research demonstrates preservice teachers often do not enter their programs with regular habits of reading and may express open avoidance or little enthusiasm for leisure reading (Applegate et al., 2014). Researchers have also identified instances wherein preservice teachers report positive attitudes towards reading and yet do not engage in the actual activity of leisure reading (Davis-Duerr, 2010; Kennedy, 2014; Lancellot, 2017; Rimensberger, 2014; Skaar et al., 2018; Walker- Dalhouse et al., 2011). Preservice teachers who do not engage in personal reading may try to present a positive attitude toward leisure reading, but their ultimate ability to model a love of reading, recommend books to children, and select appropriate reading strategies in their future classroom may be limited (Benevides & Peterson, 2010). “The danger lies in learners seeing behind the surface attitudes” (Rimensberger, 2014, p. 6). Teachers’ preconceived notions of reading in their personal lives, as either being enjoyable and meaningful or unimportant, are easily identifiable by students and impact the behaviors and perceptions of their students (Applegate et al., 2014). Data indicates students who engage in and enjoy leisure reading also experience higher levels of reading achievement (Benevides & Peterson, 2010; Burgess & Jones, 2010; Mullis et al., 2012; Whitten, Labby, & Sullivan, 2016). It is, therefore, crucial for teacher educators to work to create in preservice teachers a genuine passion and habit with leisure reading which can be perceived by and passed on to their future students (Applegate et al., 2014). To make meaning of leisure reading dispositions and the forces which may facilitate those dispositions, Lancellot (2017) stated additional research is needed “to further examine the ways in which teachers have an influence on their students’ attitudes, beliefs, and values of reading” and to “ensure teacher candidates are intrinsically motivated to read” (p. 176). In response to this call, I offer the following synopsis of my dissertation study (Oliver, 2020). Problem, Purpose, and Research Questions The problem addressed in this study is a lack of consistency in preservice teachers’ attitudes, values, and beliefs about leisure reading and their current engagement in leisure reading (Davis-Duerr, 2010; Kennedy, 2014; Lancellot, 2017; Rimensberger, 2014; Skaar et al.,


2018; Walker- Dalhouse et al., 2011). To fully investigate and encapsulate all aspects related to understanding the phenomenon of leisure reading, this study utilized the term disposition to better understand not only the actions of preservice teachers but also the underlying attitudes, values, and beliefs which guide the behaviors. The researcher gleaned a definition from across the literature to recognize leisure reading dispositions as a conceptual process wherein repetitive forces aid in developing attitudes, values, and beliefs which influence the likelihood of recurring participation in reading for pleasure among preservice teachers. The purpose of this study was to describe factors facilitating the leisure reading dispositions in elementary preservice teachers in a rural southern university in the United States. Research has affirmed coursework in educator preparatory programs has the capability of positively impacting dispositions (Applegate & Applegate, 2004; Applegate et al., 2014; Kennedy, 2014; Kindle & Schmidt, 2011; Pet, 2012). Since dispositions are impressionable, a better understanding of preservice teachers’ lived experiences related to the development of leisure reading dispositions was necessary. The following questions guided the researcher in eliciting descriptions of lived experiences preservice teachers report contributed to the process of developing attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors regarding leisure reading. In addition to eliciting descriptions of participants’ experiences, the research questions sought to discover how the preservice teachers experienced the forces facilitating described dispositions. Overarching Research Question: What forces facilitate leisure reading dispositions in preservice teachers in an elementary teaching program? Secondary Research Questions: Who or what influences the forces facilitating leisure reading dispositions? How are the forces facilitating leisure reading dispositions experienced? What are the perceptions of leisure reading that emerge from the preservice teachers’ lived experiences? Theoretical Framework Affect theory (Deleuze, 1968; Massumi, 1995; Tomkins, 1962) was chosen for use in the study as it allows for consideration of a wide breadth of possible forces which may facilitate leisure reading disposition. Affect is understood by Tomkins (1962), Deleuze (1968), and Massumi (1995) to be a distinct precursory, unconscious experience separate from and yet resulting in an emotional experience or expression. The combined research on affect, although each slightly unique, allows for the conceptualization of a cyclic process essential to understanding the effects of various forces on the becoming of individuals. Unique to this study was looking at how the affects engaging in various exchanges, internal or external, social or otherwise, add to the becoming, or development, of preservice teachers’ leisure reading dispositions.


Synthesis of the Literature Understanding leisure reading dispositions necessitates reviewing the existing literature to determine what forces may already be identified as contributing to the dispositional development of all students, including preservice teachers. When dispositions are analyzed within the context of literacy, and specifically leisure reading, the literature reviewed exposed numerous forces impacting the development of leisure reading dispositions. These forces were themed into two overarching categories: barriers to positive leisure reading dispositions and springboards for positive leisure reading dispositions. The analysis of literature conveying barriers to positive literacy dispositions largely reveals that potential readers relate struggles with time management (Burgess & Jones, 2010; Granado & Puig, 2015; Kennedy, 2014; Lancellot, 2017; Skaar et al., 2018), negative school experiences (Applegate et al., 2014; Granado & Puig, 2015; Kennedy, 2014; Lancellot, 2017; Skaar et al., 2018), and wide access to alternative forms of immediate entertainment (Burgess & Jones, 2010; Huang et al., 2014; Skaar et al., 2018). The study of literature conveying either a positive regard for pleasure reading, a tendency for pleasure reading, or both, revealed overlays which were categorized into the themes positive encounters in the home (Applegate et al., 2014; Benevides & Peterson, 2010; Granado & Puig, 2015; Lancellot, 2017; Stocks, 2011; Walker-Dalhouse et al., 2011), experiences with teachers as literacy leaders (Applegate et al., 2014; Granado & Puig, 2015; Huang et al., 2014), and intrinsic rewards (Applegate et al., 2014; Granado & Puig, 2015; Howard, 2011; Lancellot, 2017; Skaar et al., 2018). Integrating the cognitive and affective domains of literacy learning surfaced in the literature review as including multiple strategies with significant impacts on leisure reading dispositions (Darling-Hammond & Adamson, 2014; Davidson, 2010; Fisher et al., 2016; Fisher et al., 2018; Kunter et al., 2011; McConnell & Kraft, 2011; Rodrigo et al., 2014). Specific strategies suggested for building positive preservice teacher dispositions while in teacher preparation programs included providing opportunities for developing awareness of self as a reader and reflection on professional and personal goals (Berndt, 2015; DeBiase, 2017; Dengler, 2018; Kennedy, 2014; Kindle & Schmidt, 2011; Stocks, 2011) as well as development of activities connecting reading to personal lives (Applegate et al., 2014; Kennedy, 2014; Skaar et al., 2018). Methodology The paradigm followed during the study was qualitative inquiry. The qualitative research paradigm is used when researchers intend to understand how people interpret and make meaning of their experiences (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016). The specific methodology deriving from the problem and research questions was phenomenology. Phenomenology was an appropriate choice for studying leisure reading dispositions because the approach focuses on collecting rich descriptions of the participants’ experiences through one-on-one interviews (Creswell & Poth, 2018).


A purposeful sampling strategy guided the selection of participants (Patton, 2015). Participants were invited to participate in the study if they met the following criteria: (a) they expressed having had experiences related to leisure reading which influenced their attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors with leisure reading; (b) were elementary majors in the university’s education program; (c) were in their student teaching semester; and (d) they had completed all literacy education courses at the specific university where the study was taking place. The recorded interviews were transcribed, and statements which revealed participants’ experiences with the phenomenon were separated from the original transcript to more clearly see the experiences directly related to the development of the leisure reading disposition (Moustakas, 1994). The researcher then utilized the statements to write textual descriptions of what the participants experienced as well as structural descriptions to explain how they experienced it (Creswell & Poth, 2018). After writing a textural-structural description for each participant, a composite summary of textural and structural descriptions then portrayed the essence and meaning of the phenomenon of leisure reading dispositions (Moustakas, 1994). Increasing Validity Qualitative studies such as this ethically requires that the researcher avoid bias to the extent possible using specific validity strategies (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016). Credibility was achieved through with the following strategies: triangulation (Creswell & Poth, 2018), adequate engagement in data collection (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016), and reflective meditation (Moustakas, 1994), epoche, (Moustakas, 1994) and researcher’s reflexivity (Merriam and Tisdell 2016). Reflective meditation, epoche, and researcher’s reflexivity help the researcher set aside all presuppositions, prejudices, and prior experiences with the phenomenon so that it is looked at with an openness which accepts the truth of only what is reported about the phenomenon by the participants. The three types of data utilized to achieve triangulation of data sources were interview transcriptions, field notes, and correspondences from member checks. To achieve credibility through transferability, rich depictions of the context, setting, and participants were included for readers to decide whether the study conclusions were applicable within their contexts (Creswell & Poth, 2018; Merriam & Tisdell, 2016). Analysis Procedures and Descriptions Table The data analysis processes described by Moustakas (1994) guided the researcher to identify invariant constituents, statements representing phenomenon-related experiences. An example of an invariant constituent from Participant 1 is, “I also grew up watching my parents read heavily.” This invariant constituent, statement, represents a phenomenon-related experience, something the participant stated relates to her leisure reading attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors. The statements, invariant constituents, were used to write textural descriptions depicting what was experienced by each participant. The textural descriptions were organized


into core textural themes for each participant. Participant 1’s statement shared previously was bundled within the textural theme Communities of Influence. Each participant’s textural descriptions and core textural themes were essential to the process of imaginative variation which allowed the researcher to glean possible underlying dynamics contributing to the development of leisure reading dispositions (Moustakas, 1994). The process of imaginative variation was used to envision and write structural descriptions which relate how the dispositions came to be. For example, Participant 1’s statements related to experiences and emotions felt while with other readers or non-readers were bundled within the core textural theme Communities of Influence. The core textural theme and textural description were taken into account in developing the structural description which pinpoints connections with reading models as a force facilitating the leisure reading disposition of Participant 1. In the last data analysis steps, the researcher developed textural-structural descriptions which explicate the overall essence of each participants’ leisure reading disposition, and a composite description for the group was developed to include the overarching findings of the study. The core textural themes and a synthesized structural description depicting how the disposition came to be is included in Table 1. A composite description and overarching themes will follow Table 1. Table 1 Core Textural Themes and Structural Descriptions Core Textural Themes Structural Description Participants (What was Experienced) (How Developed) Participant 1: a) Communities of Influence ● Love for and connections with reading Adysen models are the main facilitating force. Early connections with family spur b) Perceptions of Accessibility reading engagement until negative peer influences halt reading engagement in c) Purpose Set for Reading middle school. Positive connections with reading models during college and d) Personal Feelings about adulthood revitalize a lost love of Reading and Teaching reading. Awareness of the importance of leisure reading stimulates problem solving regarding issues which currently constrain time for reading.


Participant 2: Catherine

a) Exposure to Literacy Leaders b) Perceptions of Accessibility c) Purpose for Reading

Participant 3: Wendy

a) Preferred Learning Style b) Environments Encountered c) Engagement with Various Book Genres d) Fluctuating Feelings about Reading and Teaching

Participant 4: Leanne

a) Communities of Influence b) Perceptions of Accessibility c) Purpose Set for Reading d) Personal Feelings about Reading

● Most influenced by feelings of freedom, power, excitement, pride, and connection. A belief in the importance of freedom of choice is influenced by negative and restricted reading experiences in daughter’s life. Continued enjoyment in reading and connection with others who enjoy reading nourishes a passion that seeks to overcome obstacles which constrain available time for leisure reading. ● Resentment, resistance, and a lack of confidence have created significant barriers to her disposition. Feelings of resentment and regret are connected to a perceived lack of attention on reading development during early childhood. Resistance to reading coupled with a lack of confidence contribute to fluctuating feelings towards reading generated during positive experiences in unrestricted and visually engaging reading environments ● Early connections with family members and friends helped to generate a positive disposition towards leisure reading that continued until negative peer influences and perceptions of accessibility interrupted reading engagement during middle school. Connections with readers in high school and college rekindle a love and appreciation for leisure reading but continued time constraints and skills needed to access books hinder engagement.


Participant 5: a) Restricted Reading Hannah Environments b) Unrestricted Reading Environments c) Communities of Influence

Participant 6: a) Unrestricted and Kendra Encouraging Reading Environments b) Restricted Reading Environments c) Perceived Time Constraints

● Feelings of closeness and enjoyment of literature established by mother in early childhood are derailed by anguish and despair in K-12 restricted reading environments, specifically related to Accelerated Reader and assigned readings in high school. Unrestricted reading environments in college and adulthood reestablish curiosity ultimately reigniting a love of literature and desire to share literature with others. ● Feelings of persistent delight in literature modeled by her mother build determination to read despite obstacles related to limited access to books through book leveling systems in school and perceived access to time for reading in adulthood. Personal desire and enjoyment of reading give positive vitality to her reading disposition.

d) Personal Purpose and Desire to Prioritize Reading Participant 7: a) Unrestricted and Stress-free ● Emotional anxieties faced in Accelerated Marley Reading Environments Reader program unraveled a foundational appreciation and love for leisure reading b) Restricted Reading established during early childhood. Experiences Emotions and experiences throughout her years as a young adult helped to revive c) Project-Based Literacy her interest and engagement in reading Assignments for pleasure. Note. Column one lists the seven preservice teachers involved in the study. Column two represents the core textural themes describing what was experienced by preservice teachers. Column three represents the synthesized structural descriptions relating how each disposition came to be developed throughout the lives of participants. Reprinted from Oliver, D. R. (2020). A phenomenological inquiry: Discovering forces facilitating leisure reading dispositions of elementary preservice teachers (28001828) [Doctoral dissertation, Southwestern College] ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: The Humanities and Social Science Collection. Composite Description as Key Findings The last step in Moustakas’ (1994) steps of data analysis required the researcher utilize the individual textural-structural descriptions to develop a composite description of essences “representing the group as a whole” (p. 121). The composite description characterizes the complete essence of the phenomenon. It is the “intuitive integration of the fundamental textural


and structural descriptions into a unified statement of the essences of the experience of the phenomenon as a whole” (Moustakas, 1994, p. 100). The essence of leisure reading dispositions included in this study is best described through the emergence of four overarching themes which are presented here as 4 key findings of the study: Finding 1. Elementary preservice teachers’ leisure reading dispositions are susceptible to the communities of people who influence them. Finding 2. Elementary preservice teachers’ leisure reading dispositions are inherently linked to the purposes they hold for reading. Finding 3. Elementary preservice teachers’ leisure reading dispositions are a reflection of the view they hold of themselves as a reader. Finding 4. Elementary preservice teachers’ leisure reading dispositions are susceptible to perceptions of freedom and accessibility. Finding One: Elementary preservice teachers’ leisure reading dispositions are susceptible to the communities of people who influence them. Communities of people who influenced the participants included family members, peers, teachers from elementary, middle, and high school levels, as well as college professors. Prior to entering school, the home environment was able to lay a foundational love of reading. All participants told stories that illustrated various in-home routines they had with their mothers, siblings, and grandparents. Adysen illustrates an example of these crucial routines as she recalled, I remember every single night before I went to bed, my mom would always say, “Go pick a book out of the bookshelf, come in here, and we'll read it.” So, we'd always sit down every night, old brown rocking chair, I'm feeling nostalgic now thinking of it, and we'd read two or three books before bed. The relationships built with literacy leaders in school were also important to inspiring positive leisure reading dispositions. Catherine illustrated the power of a teacher to broaden the reading engagement of students as she recounted the effect of her experiences in Mr. Patton’s sixth-grade classroom as he read Matilda (Dahl, 1988): It just encouraged me, even more, to seek out books that I might not normally have chosen and to try them and find new things and read outside of my series that I was so in love with. And learning that there's this whole big world of authors, and the world of books is so much bigger than what you know, what I had been trying. Although I had read lots of books, I had kind of saddled myself to series because I liked the consistency. I liked the comfort of that. . . So, it helped me to become more open-minded when I would go to the library, like “Let me try this over here. No, it's not a series, but it will be okay.” And, more often than not, I ended up loving whatever I chose. The impact of a teacher does not stop in the K-12 school district. Adysen, Catherine,


Wendy, and Hannah also referred to the influence of a college professor. Wendy noted the positive influence of her Introduction to Literature professor. Adysen recalled her Children’s Literature professor was the “only person in college that really pushed for that [leisure reading].” Just as teachers can influence dispositions positively, they also have the ability to make negative impacts, even if they are unintentional. This is best captured as Adysen explained, I feel like I had good reading teachers my sixth and seventh-grade year, but they didn't facilitate a love of reading. They didn't push very heavily for leisure reading. It was more of lessons and content and not really setting aside time to leisure read in class or pushing for us to read outside of class, like in elementary school. . . They didn't push for it. . . That aspect that kind of hurts students as well, not pushing that. The impact of peers was also a significant influencing factor for all participants. When asked who Wendy felt influenced her disposition the most during her years in school, she stated, “Teachers and your peers, especially your peers. I feel like I learned a lot from my peers, sometimes more than I can learn from teachers, just because they can explain in a total different way for me to understand.” Often, peers were noted by participants as being able to have a positive influence, but Adysen and Leanne also noted middle school peers did not view reading as something popular to do. Adysen even noted that she was made fun of for being seen reading. She explained, “I think, kind of, that might have influenced me in a way of getting away from reading because I thought, ‘Well, nobody else is doing it, so I'm not going to. Um, it's not cool to read.’” This finding reveals the importance of communities of influencers and demonstrates the power of families, peers, and teachers to facilitate dispositions in both positive and negative ways. Finding Two: Elementary preservice teachers’ leisure reading dispositions are inherently linked to the purposes they hold for reading. All participating preservice teachers related being driven to read for various purposes. Purposes for reading that continue to impact them today are largely intrinsic in nature and most commonly revolve around the desire to connect with others and advance their own life satisfaction. Kendra, Hannah, Catherine, and Wendy all shared stories that illustrate this finding. Wendy related, “When I do that [leisure read], I do feel more calm, more centered and can just let go of things that I am keeping.” Hannah stated, “It's like a stress reliever too, because, even on my most stressful days, I just want to go home and kick my feet up and read. I don't want to do anything else.” Kendra and Catherine relied on books to pass time during moments of trial, like the absence of a father or during family disagreements. Kendra stated, “Reading was usually how I handled my emotions. Instead of lashing out or crying or something, I'd just usually read a book, and I was just happy reading a book.” Hannah also related the experience of enjoying the escape books can offer now as an adult: “I just get into my own universe about whatever's going on in my book. Again, I'm reading the Unwind series, and I just started the last book, so my mind's always on like [the characters] Risa and whatever Connor's doing and what's going to


happen with Cam.” All participants discussed the value of connecting with others through shared reading experiences. Hannah, like Catherine and Kendra, continues to share reading experiences with her mother. Leanne further illustrated the joy sharing in literature brought her as a young child in elementary school: One time, me and one of my friends tried to make a little book club, but nobody else joined. So, we just did it ourselves. [laughing] We read the same book, and then we would wait for each other to get on the next chapter or whatever. But I don't know. That was fun. Hannah summarized one purpose for reading as the need for connecting with others when she stated, “I want to tell people all the time about the latest book that I've read.” Adysen, Hannah, Leanne, Catherine, and Marley also shared they read for the purpose of extending learning related to their work in the classroom. As K-12 students, participants related they were sometimes driven to read through the extrinsic rewards they received. Adysen and Leanne stated they both enjoyed reading for incentives. Catherine recalled “pride” at being “recognized” for turning in reading logs as teachers would place a sticker on the wall each time she turned in a reading log. Alternatively, Hannah revealed the way she experienced the lack of receiving rewards as punishment, “It almost made it feel like a punishment that I wasn't reading well enough.” The use of a technology-based independent reading motivation and management program called Accelerated Reader (Renaissance, n.d.) was discussed by six of the seven participants. While three participants related they equated joy with the receiving of rewards associated with earning point goals set within the Accelerated Reader program, all three of these participants experienced significant decreases in reading behaviors as they entered middle and high school, thus indicating the reward may only have been effective in the short term. Two different participants related significant hardships and emotional turmoil experienced while trying to attain rewards tied to leisure reading. Overall, the lasting purposes held for reading in this group of participants were largely intrinsic. Participants read to connect with others and to advance life satisfaction. While six of the seven participants experienced schools with reading incentives, the success of these incentives was not consistent and was not found to have positive effects on engagement in reading beyond the time frame associated with the reward initiative in place. Finding Three: Elementary preservice teachers’ leisure reading dispositions are a reflection of the view they hold of themselves as a reader. The participants in this study often behaved according to the view they held of themselves as a reader. Six of the seven participants who developed positive views of self in early childhood enjoyed positive attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors throughout early childhood. Early in life, Wendy’s experiences influenced a self-view which communicated reading was not something she enjoyed doing. She has never adopted a view of herself as a


person who prioritizes reading for pleasure. Kendra and Catherine, two of the six participants who developed strong and positive views of self in early childhood, were largely able to retain a positive leisure reading disposition throughout their life with only ever encountering slight and brief struggles to manage time within the constraints of daily life obligations. Two additional participants, Adysen and Leanne, who enjoyed positive early childhood dispositions and views of self, had their views and dispositions reversed during their middle school years. Adysen identified herself as a strong reader in elementary school. She knew she “was on a higher level than most other students.” Adysen read widely and often in both early childhood and elementary school. It was not until the negative influences of friends in middle school and encountering less access to books in her middle school library that Adysen began to lose interest in leisure reading, identify as a nonreader, and quit reading entirely. Once in the college course Children’s Literature, a requirement for her education degree, Adysen reignited her interest and easily began to engage in reading for pleasure once again. She continues to engage and strives to better herself as a reader and model today. Leanne’s positive view of self as a reader took a turn in middle school as well. When Leanne’s peers began to see leisure reading in a negative light, she developed a view of self as a nonreader and correspondingly lost engagement in reading. Marley and Hannah also seemed to live up to the images created of themselves as readers. Marley and Hannah, two of the six participants who began life with positive views of self and dispositions, ultimately saw their views of self and dispositions shift as they encountered experiences with Accelerated Reader. Hannah stated that, through her experiences with Accelerated Reader, she began to view herself as “a terrible reader.” Throughout her years of elementary, middle, and high school this self-perception persisted, and, by high school, Hannah began to engage in cheating through the use of SparkNotes, an online reference website providing website visitors with summaries of books. This experience only brought about further negative feelings which propelled a lack of engagement in leisure reading. Hannah explained that cheating in this manner was, “really embarrassing for myself. Too, whenever I think about it, in high school, I was a straight-A student and to think that I was a straight-A student who was, like [long pause], I felt like I was cheating on that time, too. . . So, knowing that I'm a straight-A student, knowing that I'm capable, and then knowing I wasn't pushing myself. It was a lot of being really hard on myself.” Once Hannah entered college, she encountered an environment that encouraged her to reconsider her beliefs about herself and reading. In time, Hannah was able to rebuild a positive disposition. With a renewed positive view of herself as a reader, Hannah began to engage in reading more consistently for the purpose of enjoyment. Marley also began with a positive view of self and disposition in early childhood but was thrown off course by experiences in Accelerated Reader. As she struggled to meet her goals in the time set, she developed a less confident view of self as a reader. She perceived herself a slow reader who struggled to meet expectations of her teachers. She associated stress and anxiety with leisure reading, and, once she was free of the requirement to read for Accelerated Reader, she quit engaging in leisure reading altogether.


For both Hannah and Marley, their positive self view and positive disposition in early childhood was derailed and replaced with a negative view resulting in a negative disposition until positive experiences were again able to restore their view of self and ultimately rebuild their disposition. The researcher also carefully analyzed whether it was the beliefs about oneself that influenced the behavior or beliefs about leisure reading influencing behaviors. Hannah stated when discussing her deteriorating disposition, I want to say it started in third grade that reading was put on me, and those AR [Accelerated Reader] goals kind of became an issue and then the older I got, the more I thought, “I'm a terrible reader. What's the point in even reading? This isn't fun anymore. I don't want to do it.” In this excerpt, it seems that the belief of oneself, “I’m a terrible reader,” predicates the belief about leisure reading, “this isn’t fun anymore,” and finally influences the behavior, “I don’t want to do it.” This study, therefore, adds further clarity for understanding the degree to which Accelerated Reader can potentially influence students’ views of themselves and ultimately their leisure reading dispositions. Altogether the views participants held of themselves proved to have direct implications for their leisure reading behaviors. Finding Four: Elementary preservice teachers’ leisure reading dispositions are susceptible to perceptions of freedom and accessibility. Freedom to select reading material of interest as well as accessibility to reading, in a physical sense and in regard to time for reading, was repeatedly noted to be of importance throughout the participant interviews. Books were available and read to each participant within the home environment prior to formally beginning school. However, once entering school, Hannah, Kendra, Marley, and Leanne related perceived limitations to physical access to books due to the restrictions placed on them within the leveling system of Accelerated Reader. This limitation resulted in feelings of “annoyance” for both Kendra and Leanne. Although Leanne stated she felt she had a good variety of books she liked in her level, there would be times where, Your friend would be reading, and she’d tell me about it. I'd be like, “Oh, I really want I read that,” but it'd be too high or too low, and I wouldn't be able to test on it. And then it would just kind of be “Well, I'll read that during the summer.” . . . but then summer would come, and I’d forget . . . [I felt] annoyed because I wanted to read different books, but I felt like I was kind of steered in a different direction when I could have read fun books. Neither Marley nor Hannah wanted to engage in leisure reading for most of their time in K- 12 schools and directly related this to their experience with Accelerated Reader (AR). Marley stated, “I think when I started getting deep into the AR program was when I started to not like reading as much.” She explained how the leveling system influenced her: “We had a range of what we could read. So, we can only go down this low on this level. You could have went a little


higher, but you can't go lower.” The restricted reading experiences in the Accelerated Reader program had detrimental effects on Marley’s reading disposition: It made me not want to leisure read at all. It didn't make me view it as leisure reading at all. Once I got in seventh grade and got out of the AR thing from sixth grade and down, I didn't read unless I had to for English, and I didn't start reading again probably till college. After sixth-grade, Marley never again went to the library to check out a library book. Hannah felt punished by the reward system in place with Accelerated Reader, but the leveling system also affected her behaviors with leisure reading. She explained, They had a dot system, and on your library card, they would put the color of dots that you were allowed to read. And I remember I was like a dark green and that was like mid-level. The highest level in our elementary library, the fifth, sixth-grade library, was hot pink. And there were so many hot, hot pink books that I really wanted to read, but I was told I wasn't allowed to because my library card didn't show that I could read those because the level was too high . . . it was like they set my own bar for me. While Catherine’s own public-school experience did not include limited access to books, she did discuss the anger and frustration she feels as a parent who has a daughter limited by the leveling system of Accelerated Reader. She related how her daughter refused to read books unless they are first checked to ensure they are “in her level” because the daughter feels reading outside of the level is a waste of time, as reading books outside of her range will not earn her any points at school. Catherine stated, That's not the relationship I want my child to have with books. And so where I went out of my way to find books and find stories and read and went out of my way to find time to read those books and explore those stories, my daughter now goes out of her way to try to avoid those books, and avoid those stories, and avoid those adventures because times are different. Her circumstances are so vastly different than the ones that I experienced, and she doesn't have those liberties that I had and the encouragement that I had. She's being encouraged to read, which I was also, but only if it fits inside this box and that's not how my child works. I can't speak for every child, but it frustrates her and to the point where she gives up. Catherine’s own experiences with freedom of choice make observing her daughter’s current struggles with a leveled book system even harder. As a child, Catherine recalled, “It made me feel a little bit powerful that I had the freedom to choose what I was curious about and what I was interested in.” Kendra, Hannah, and Wendy related feelings of resentment towards situations wherein they were forced to read materials they were uninterested in. For example, Kendra stated, “I hated being told, ‘You have to read this.’” In addition to restrictions on reading and perceived lack of freedom to choose, participants related their struggles accessing time for


reading at various points in their lived experiences. During elementary school, both Hannah and Marley related they felt immense pressure to read at rates beyond their ability in order to reach Accelerated Reader point goals. Marley described her struggle to read within the time constraints needed to achieve her point goal: Maybe just the goals were too high. Like if it [the point goal] could have just been set for [Drop Everything and Read] DEAR time, which I know you have to read at home, but they were just too much. Maybe they just made my goals too high, where it made me stress out. I felt like I had to read all weekend. Once Marley, Leanne, Wendy, and Adysen reached middle school, time to read became limited. Marley illustrates the common struggle, “I played basketball. So, I never really had time to just, you know, feel the need to wanna sit down and read.” Catherine explained the workrelated struggle common also to Kendra and Leanne: I was so overwhelmed by adulting, if you will, that I took 14 hours of classes and I worked 35 hours a week. So I didn't, I would leave class, change my clothes, get in my car, drive to work, work until 11:00 o'clock at night, drive back to the dorms, do homework until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore, get up and do it all again the next day. And so, yeah, it was really kind of sad for me because there was a lot going on in my life at the time, and I would have loved nothing more than to have grabbed a book and sat in my dorm room and read the day away but it wasn't an option at that time. Six of the seven participants expressed a continued struggle to make time for leisure reading. Marley, Leanne, and Catherine discussed the value of now having access to audiobooks which make accessing time to reading easier as they are able to engage in reading while working on additional tasks like working or driving. Kendra related she has learned to balance her time to incorporate reading more regularly. Her method for balancing reveals the place reading takes in her current life: “If I'm really into a book, I'll put off sleep, or laundry, or something else that needs to be done so I can finish it.” Adysen related her personal efforts to make more time for reading as she described, “I still feel like I have a lot of work to do on being a better reader and setting aside time for it, but I feel like, if I do just a little bit each day, it'll make me grow more.” Overall, access to perceived quality texts, the freedom and power to select books according to their will, and the desire to read despite complex issues related to time constraints were evident throughout study interviews. Overview of the Findings as Related to the Research Questions The overarching research question to be answered through the inquiry process was, “What forces facilitate leisure reading dispositions in preservice teachers in an elementary teaching program?” The summary of findings revealed elementary preservice teachers were susceptible to the communities of people who influence them, the purposes they hold for leisure reading, their view of self as a reader, and their perceptions of freedom and accessibility.


The initial secondary research question addressed was, “Who or what influences the forces facilitating leisure reading dispositions?” Of all the secondary research questions, this one was the most difficult to discern. This difficulty became clear as the researcher sought to discover who or what influenced the communities which influenced participants in the study. From the transcripts, no evidence was found to identify who or what influenced the parents that served as strong reading models for their children. However, there were occasionally parental choices that were influenced by identifiable sources. For instance, Leanne’s mother often drove them to a nearby town to visit the library. Leanne related this was due to the limited supply of books available within the public library in which the family lived. In elementary school, Hannah was punished by her parents, made to spend the evening of her brother's birthday celebration alone reading in her room because a teacher had called home to alert parents that Hannah had not met an Accelerated Reader goal. This event caused Hannah great despair, and she admitted to hating reading after the event, never again meeting an Accelerated Reader goal. When Marley was asked to reflect on who or what she felt influenced her negative experiences with Accelerated Reader she similarly stated, “Probably just my reading teacher that I had from fourth grade to sixth grade. Just because she was kind of in charge of it.” Alternatively, when Catherine was asked who or what she perceived influenced her daughter's negative experiences with Accelerated Reader she stated, “I don't know who makes the decision to use the programs. I don't know if that comes from the district or the state. But the teacher is responsible for executing the program to the guidelines that they're given.” This quote opens up a broader question of who or what may be truly mandating the use of the program that was noted by six of the seven participants as facilitating at least some negative influence on their disposition. When considering who or what influences the views readers hold of themselves it seemed the best indication came from Hannah who stated, “The teachers and students just kind of had that grip on my mind that, ‘Hannah, you can’t do this.’” The notion that it is the communities of people who surrounded the participants which influenced their view of self was further supported by Catherine’s assertion that she felt “recognized” for her ability at school, and Leanne’s story of the teacher who made a lasting impact on her through providing her with encouragement and compliments related to reading. The influencer of perceived access to time was clearer. The addition of homework experienced in the secondary and higher education courses as well as extra-curricular activities and the need to engage in work to maintain a living wage were largely attributed to lack of access to time for reading. The next secondary research question was, “How are the forces facilitating leisure reading dispositions experienced?” The emotions experienced with communities of influence depended largely upon the level of encouragement for reading being provided by the people involved. When participants encountered people of influence that were encouraging, they often felt emotions of joy and love. This was evident throughout the commentary of six of the seven participants who had joyful reading experiences with their mothers in early childhood, and also by Wendy when she finally began to associate “joy” with reading in her favored high school


teacher's classroom. When Adysen encountered teachers in middle school she perceived as not pushing her to read, she stated that it “hurt students.” When she visited the library only to find books she did not perceive as engaging, as well as when she was ridiculed by peers for reading, she felt “disappointment.” When allowed access to time for reading around the room during DEAR time, all participants related feelings of enjoyment. When perceived access to time and books was limited in elementary school through her experiences with Accelerated Reader, Marley described her emotions as “stressful.” Catherine described the emotions she witnesses in her daughter as “anxious, nervous, and scared.” Hannah described the influence of Accelerated Reader as making her feel “ashamed,” “upset and discouraged,” as well as “embarrassed” and “defeated.” Wendy and Leanne noted how their feelings and emotions could transform during a reading experience. While at first, they related they might be resistant to reading, the story and the ability to talk about the book with their peers often had the potential to shift their emotions to feelings of excitement and enjoyment. When participants' views of self as a reader were positively influenced and they began to see themselves with more positive regard, they were also more likely to experience leisure reading with emotions of happiness and joy. Ultimately, emotions describing experiences of participants were more likely to be positive when opportunities to share literature were present and encouragement, freedom, and access to time were perceived. The last secondary research question was, “What are the perceptions of leisure reading that emerge from the preservice teachers’ lived experience?” The perception of leisure reading that emerged from the totality of the lived experiences of participants is that leisure reading is joyful, exciting, and adds value to your life when experienced under specific conditions. The conditions revealed as necessary included: involvement with communities of people who encourage them and share in their reading experiences, maintaining an intrinsic purpose for reading and positive view of oneself as a reader, and freedom to select materials of personal interest with access to time for engagement. Implications for Policies and Practices The insights and findings that emerge from his study have tremendous potential to positively influence the development of leisure reading dispositions of students in K-20 educational systems. The following section outlines recommendations K-12 school districts, institutions of higher education, and educator preparatory programs should consider as they engage in decision making actions which contribute to the leisure reading dispositions of students in their care. Recommendations are organized in relation to each of the key findings. Key Finding One Recommendations K-12 school districts, institutions of higher education, and educator preparatory programs should be intentional in designing environments which allow for positive communities of influence to flourish. This includes ensuring opportunities for teachers and students to discuss


books in the classroom and further creating opportunities which allow students to recommend books to one another and engage in reading the same books when desired. This research provides explicit evidence of the effectiveness and importance of including a children’s literature course within the preparatory programs completed by preservice teachers. Courses outside of children’s literature were also mentioned as influential. Three participants related the way book readings and discussion in other courses, including one general education course and three additional required education courses, stimulated their interest and engagement in reading for pleasure. Due to this testimony, it is recommended that professors throughout higher education incorporate discussions of text which allow students to demonstrate their understandings and enjoyment in the literature assigned to them. Key Finding Two Recommendations K-12 school districts, institutions of higher education, and educator preparatory programs should be intentional in helping students establish and maintain intrinsic purposes for reading. This study revealed reading rewards and incentive programs did not make lasting impacts on reading dispositions, while the more intrinsically related purposes for reading surfaced as longlasting and continually available outlets to motivate engagement throughout the lifetime. Moreover, when students feared denial in engagement in school wide parties and field trips, significant and negative affectual consequences were experienced. The negative effects of reward systems should encourage schools to address resulting implications for the disregard of students’ affectual and emotional well-being as well as their obligation to maintain confidentiality of students’ academic information. Key Finding Three Recommendations K-12 school districts, institutions of higher education, and educator preparatory programs should be intentional in engaging students in reflective activities and discussion which guide students in becoming aware of the views they hold of themselves as readers and further capitalize on transitional opportunities. Due to the commentaries in this study which demonstrated participants’ ability to reflect on their behaviors and ultimate influence in the classroom, it is especially critical that literacy education instructors intentionally engage preservice teachers in the process of reflecting on their experiences and articulating their attitudes, values, and beliefs about leisure reading so that dispositional change can occur as needed. Students should be guided to articulate connections between their experiences and their current dispositions, envision desired dispositions, as well as communicate an understanding of how their dispositions will influence others or future students. Transitional opportunities which this research revealed hold potential for affecting positive change at any level included providing choice in reading assignments, implementation of project-based literacy assignments, and opportunities for discussion of text which allows for personal connections between the text and


students’ lives to be revealed. Key Finding Four Recommendations K-12 school districts, institutions of higher education, and educator preparatory programs should make intentional efforts to address issues constraining perceived time for reading as well as ensure students have physical access to and freedom to choose books of interest to them. Categorizing students according to reading scores which are clearly communicated to others through the color labeling and book leveling system of Accelerated Reader was demonstrated to have negative effects on six of the seven participants’ leisure reading dispositions. Helping students and teachers to learn specific methods for determining the appropriate difficulty of books independently, without a labeled leveling system, could hold better potential for assisting readers in selecting appropriate texts beyond the school library and into adulthood. Discussing with students the readability of the text in conjunction with the book’s potential for satisfying the students’ purpose for reading, to escape or to learn for example, may further build the skills students will need in order to engage in reading independently of the school context and into adulthood. Allow time for in school reading and engage readers in brainstorming how to access time outside of school for leisure reading. Institutions of higher education should be conscientious of the transition of students coming from high schools and students new to the institution in general. It should not be assumed that students are familiar with utilizing library catalogs or classification systems. Intentional efforts should be made by institution faculty and library staff to demonstrate library use related processes to incoming students. Conclusion The purpose of this study was to describe factors facilitating the leisure reading dispositions of preservice elementary teachers just prior to graduating from their preparatory program. Although the purpose of the study was achieved, potential for change lies with the ability of stakeholders to take action. The prospects of knowledge without action are merely desires unfulfilled. While we may desire classrooms headed by passionate readers, without actionable change resistance to leisure reading among our students and teachers may persist. Freedom of choice and implications of extrinsic rewards were key areas that surfaced in this research and continue to be brought up in conversations with other teachers and leaders at conferences I’ve attended, the parents with whom I’ve spoken informally, and the future teachers who walk in the hallways and inhabit the classrooms of our higher education institutions. Eliminating leveled libraries, allowing choice, and reevaluating reward systems may not be easy places to start but they are crucial areas to begin immediately evaluating. When Leanne was asked if she felt the rewards associated with Accelerated Reader had any impact on her current leisure reading disposition she stated, Yeah, I guess, I'm kind of a type of person where I have to, I need to know that there's a


reason why I'm doing it sometimes. So, like if I'm studying for something, I'm like, “Okay, I'm going to get through this page, and then I'm going to eat a gummy bear,” or something like that. I kind of have to reward myself in that sense, too. This statement was troubling to the researcher, suggesting the need to better understand the long- term effects of reading rewards offered to children when they are establishing tendencies which will guide their behaviors throughout adulthood. Through this research it has been further shown that students are influenced by the reading attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors of their teachers. We cannot build teachers as readers through an endless supply of gummy bears or pizza or popsicles. It must be through the development of the intrinsic rewards of community and connection with characters, stories, and other readers which we build not only the readers in our k-12 classrooms, but the readers that become our teachers. It may only be through the concurrent consideration of these findings, implications, recommendations, and corresponding action steps of stakeholders that positive dispositional development in students and future teachers comes to fruition. References Applegate, A. J., & Applegate, M. D. (2004). The peter effect: Reading habits and attitudes of preservice teachers. Reading Teacher, 57(6), 554-563. Applegate, A. J., Applegate, M. D., Mercantini, M. A., McGeehan, C. M., Cobb, J. B., DeBoy, J. R., . . . Lewinski, K. E. (2014). The peter effect revisited: Reading habits and attitudes of college students. Literacy Research and Instruction, 53(3), 188. Benevides, T., & Peterson, S. S. (2010). Literacy attitudes, habits and achievements of future teachers. Journal of Education for Teaching, 36(3), 291. doi:10.1080/02607476.2010.497375 Berndt, R. M. (2015). Finding themselves in the "finding place": Exploring preservice teachers' professional identities and visions of teaching literacy across the curriculum. (Dissertation). ProQuest Central; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection database. (1717897905) Burgess, S. R., & Jones, K. K. (2010). Reading and media habits of college students varying by sex and remedial status. College Student Journal, 44(2), 492-508. Creswell, J. W., & Poth, C. N. (2018). Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approaches (4 ed.). Sage Publications. Dahl, Roald. (1988). Matilda. Scholastic. Darling-Hammond, L., & Adamson, F. (2014). Beyond the bubble test: How performance assessments support 21st century learning. Jossey-Bass. Davidson, K. (2010). The integration of cognitive and sociocultural theories of literacy development: Why? How? Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 56(3), 246-256. Davis-Duerr, J. (2010). Qualitative and quantitative inquiry into the affective domain of


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Massumi, B. (1995). The autonomy of affect. Cultural Critique (31), 83. doi:10.2307/1354446 McConnell, D. A., & Kraft, K. J. V. D. H. (2011). Affective domain and student learning in the geosciences. Journal of Geoscience Education, 59(3), 106-110. doi:10.5408/1.3604828 Merriam, S. B., & Tisdell, E. J. (2016). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation (4 ed.). Jossey-Bass. Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological research methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. Mullis, I. V. S., Martin, M. O., Foy, P., & Drucker, K. T. (2012). PIRLS 2011 International Results in Reading. (978-1-889938-65-3). Boston, MA: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, Boston College, Timss Pirls International Study Center. Oliver, D. R. (2020). A phenomenological inquiry: Discovering forces facilitating leisure reading dispositions of elementary preservice teachers (28001828) [Doctoral dissertation, Southwestern College] ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: The Humanities and Social Science Collection. Patton, M. Q. (2015). Qualitative research & evaluation methods (4 ed.). SAGE. Pet, S. R. (2012). Why "how" matters: Exploring how preservice English teachers experience reading "for pleasure" and "with an eye toward teaching" and how they conceptualize teaching literature. (Dissertation). ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection database. (1369906817) Renaissance (n.d.) Renaissance Accelerated Reader. Retrieved April 15, 2022 from: medium=website&int_campaign=Parentpages&utm_source=rli&utm_medium=email& utm_campaign=FMM_CMP_05993&utm_content=GGR19&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTkRVd0 5tTXdOMk0wWmpaaSIsInQiOiJxNnhwQThTclBmYnJDcmZJU09oRzlvdDhrQnNKe Ed1SXd4OGg1emhpUDhFSXFZcjBFODJ3TElHZlhEXC9FTFdpTGZla2lFd1ZSRVp5 K2hjOVBja1ZXVGZoemNSZ04yMFlRVXpXTDg3RkxVQXV2VGVydnBzc2k3ck9k OEtGSUlPVVMifQ%3D%3D Rimensberger, N. (2014). Reading is very important, but...: Taking stock of South African student teachers' reading habits. Reading & Writing, 5(1), 1-9. Rodrigo, V., Greenberg, D., & Segal, D. (2014). Changes in reading habits by low literate adults through extensive reading. Reading in a Foreign Language, 26(1), 73-91. Skaar, H., Elvebakk, L., & Nilssen, J. H. (2018). Literature in decline? Differences in preservice and in-service primary school teachers' reading experiences. Teaching & Teacher Education, 69, 312-323. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2017.10.019 Stocks, G. L. (2011). Prospective teachers of reading: Personal literacies of first generation and continuing generation students. (3459164 Dissertation). ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection database. (873898224)


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Dr. Dana Oliver is an assistant professor and Reading Specialist Program Director at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. She serves as the Chair of the Oklahoma Higher Education Reading Council, on the Board of the Oklahoma Literacy Association, and ILA’s Concern for Affect in Reading Education Special Interest Group. Recently, Dr. Oliver’s dissertation, from which this article was developed, received the Distinguished Dissertation Award from the Association of Teacher Educators of Kansas. Dr. Oliver is also a recent recipient of the Oklahoma DaVinci Institute Fellowship Award. She can be reached at


Holly Rice

e-Books vs Print What’s the Difference? It is safe to say we are inundated with technology. No matter what age, you cannot avoid the changes taking place in technology today. From tablets to Chromebooks used in the classrooms to cable television converting to internet in our homes, it seems you cannot dodge the change in technology. Technology is ever evolving, and you have no choice but to get onboard or to be left behind, or so it appears. We know as educators it is a must to stay on top of change, whether we want it or not. As teachers we sometimes blindly follow the trend because that is what we are instructed to do, but not without resignation and the thought of how we know that this change is for the better. It takes years of research and the collection of data to conclude that change may or may not be for the best. All the while, our students are the ones that could quite possibly be missing the boat. For example, there still remains the age-old debate in teaching reading as to what approach is best, whole language or phonics? Most can agree or find middle ground that there is a place for both and that both have unique characteristics in terms of helping a child learn to read (teachnology, 2022). There is also the matter of pen and paper versus typing. Neuroscientists have concluded that writing and reading what we have written with a pen or pencil rather than typing taps into the brain networks creating a much deeper learning experience (Terada et al., 2021). For the past ten plus years, another ongoing debatable topic is the matter of e-books versus traditional print. The questions remain, is one better than the other and is there a place for both? Why Traditional Print? Recent studies have shown students continue to prefer traditional print over digital screens (Baron et al., 2017; Barshay, 2019; Davidovitch et al., 2016; Kurata et al., 2017; Mizrachi, 2015). Research also suggests reading outcomes are influenced by the medium used, and currently, print supersedes digital in impact (Lenhard et al., 2017; Mangen et al., 2013; Singer & Alexander, 2017), but the margin is lessening. In a 2021 meta-analysis comparison of digital versus print in children’s learning outcomes, lower comprehension scores were associated with e-books, but with story-congruent enhancements, digital books out-performed traditional print. In the same study it was also found that adults’ mediation while reading print books to children was more effective to student comprehension than enhancements in digital books read by children independently (Furenes et al., 2021). Reading print books is associated with reading comprehension more than any other materials (McGeown et al., 2016), and reading digital texts is different than reading from a book. Reading from a digital book requires more concentration


(Fesel et al., 2018), and teachers reported students focused more on the device being used rather than the content being read (Schugar et al., 2013). Children of all ages, from toddlers and preschool to college age students, are more likely to comprehend more when they are engaged by reading printed material than reading from e-books and/or a screen (Barshay, 2019; Delgado et al., 2018; Munzer et al., 2019; Pew Research Center, 2018). Why E-Books? E-books include multimodal features such as sounds, animations, videos and narrations that traditional print does not offer. E-books also provide interactivity and convenience, not to mention the benefits of engaging readers and offering differentiated instruction (Schugar, et al., 2013). Although these added features are beneficial, they can also distract from what is being read. Research shows that e-books with digital enhancements that relate to the story can have positive learning outcomes, but digital enhancements that are not related to the story narrative can have a negative effect (Christ et al., 2019). For example, some e-books have games embedded in the story apps, distracting from the story content and resulting in poorer reading comprehension (Munzer, et al., 2019; Parish-Morris et al., 2013). E-books also provide specific language promoting features, such as embedded dictionaries that provide word definitions and follow story context. These features were found to enhance children’s vocabulary (Korat et al., 2019). In addition to vocabulary development, a previous study conducted with children at risk for learning disabilities, ranging in ages from five to seven years old, found independent reading of a digital book was more beneficial in the development of their vocabulary than a print book read by an adult (Shamir et al., 2012). Furthermore, automated reading on a computer for vocabulary development for children at risk for disabilities was also found just as effective as an adult reading a traditional print book aloud to students (Segers et al., 2006). Lastly, one of the most important contributions of e-books is that e-books are deemed more convenient and diverse, allowing teachers and students to easily access thousands of e-book materials from their mobile devices (Schugar et. al., 2013) at anytime and anywhere. Considerations for e-Books in the Classroom Although we think most students are “experts” with technology, not all students are literate in using the devices needed to access e-books, and not all students have had the same opportunities to work with these devices in their homes or schools. The first consideration for teachers using e-books in the classroom is to consider teaching students to become familiar with the technology being used. Technology varies from school to school; some schools provide iPads, while others may use Chromebooks. Teachers cannot assume that students’ prior experiences with the use of technology will prepare the student to use an e-book effectively without orienting students to how the basic functions of these devices work (Schugar et al., 2013). Students need explicit teaching and modeling in navigating e-books on their specific device.


Teachers interested in using both e-books and traditional print in the classroom to teach comprehension can also support students through targeted instruction by scaffolding their reading experience. During this process, it is important for teachers to emphasize how the strategies taught across both formats are similar and different. For example, when teaching vocabulary, there are many ways to infer a meaning from unknown vocabulary words when using traditional print. One way to infer the meaning of a word by using print is to examine the context of the word in the text and to use pictures to gain clues about the meaning of the word. Many interactive e-books are similar in that they offer interactive features such as sound and animations to also help students uncover the meanings of the words (Schugar et al., 2013). Most print-based reading skills are transferable to e-books. Inferring, predicting, retelling or summarizing a story are all reading strategies that work well with both formats. However, students again may need explicit instruction to implement the strategies in the e-book environment. In teaching students how to transfer their print-based reading skills while using interactive e-books, it is also important to note that students should not become over reliant on ebook features such as the dictionary and the “read to me features.” If students become over reliant on these features, the reading process itself could become disrupted. Therefore, it is recommended that teachers introduce these features, but to advise students to be careful to not over-use while reading e-books (Schugar et al., 2013). Conclusion The ongoing debate of digital versus print may continue for some time, at least until more research is done. In time, as with any argument, hopefully a common ground can be found for the use of both digital and print. Maybe it is not a question as to which one is better than the other, but rather how they can both be utilized in the classroom effectively. Neither one, digital or print, can replace a good teacher and any reading is good for children, no matter the medium. Ultimately, when digital and print books are comparable, kids best comprehend the print version, but when enhancements like motion and sound enrich the story content, e-books are generally more appealing and at an advantage. In addition, the new and improved designs of e-books offer tools that allow readers to annotate, highlight words, answer embedded questions, and share thoughts with other readers. As children become more accustomed to e-books, might the print book advantages decline? Nevertheless, at this time, reading from paper appears to be more efficient, but it looks as if digital books have a promising future. References Baron, N., Calixte, R., & Haravewala, M. (2017). The persistence of print among university students: An exploratory study. Telematics and Informatics, 34, 590–604.


Barshay, J. (2019). Evidence increases for reading on paper instead of screens. The Hechinger Report. Christ, T., Wang, X. C., Chiu, M. M., Cho, H. (2019). Kindergartener’s meaning-making with multimodal app books: The relations amongst reader characteristics, app book characteristics, and comprehension outcomes. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 47, 357–372. Davidovitch, N., Yavich, R., & Druckman, E. (2016). Don’t throw out the paper and pens yet: On the reading habits of students. Journal of Educational Research, 12(4). Delgado, P., Vargas, C., Ackerman, R., & Salmeron, L. (2018). Don’t throw away your printed books: A meta-analysis on the effects of reading media on comprehension. Educational Research Review, 25, 23–28. Fesel, S., Segers, E., & Verhoeven, L. (2018). Individual variation in children’s reading comprehension across digital text types. Journal of Research in Reading, 41(1), 106–121. Furenes, M., Kurcirkova, N., & Bus, A. (2021). A comparison of children’s reading on paper versus screen: A Meta Analysis. Review of Educational Research, 91(4). Korat, O., Graister, T., & Altman, C. (2019). Contribution of Reading and e-book with a dictionary to Word learning: Comparison of kindergarteners with and without SLI. Journal of Communication Disorders, 79, 11-12. Kurata, K., Ishita, E., Miyata, Y., & Minami, Y. (2017). Print or digital? Reading behavior and preferences in Japan. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 68, 884–894. Lenhard, W., Schroeders, U., & Lenhard, A. (2017). Equivalence of screen versus print reading comprehension depends on task complexity and proficiency. Discourse Processes, 54, 427–445. Mangen, A., Walgermo, B., & Brennick, K. (2013). Reading linear texts on paper versus computer screens: Effects on reading comprehension. International Journal of Educational Research, 58, 61–68. McGeown, S., Osborne, C., Warhurst, A., Norgate, R., & Duncan, L. (2016). Understanding children’s reading activities: Reading motivation, skill and child characteristics as predictors. Journal of Research in Reading, 39(1), 109–125. Mizrachi, D. (2015). Undergraduates’ academic reading format preferences and behaviors. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41, 301–311. Munzer, T. G., Miller, A. L., Weeks, H. M., Kaciroti, N., Radesky, J. (2019). Differences in parent-toddler interactions with electronic versus print books. Pediatrics, 143(4). Parish-Morris, J., Mahajan, N., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R. M., Collins, M. F. (2013). Once upon a time: Parent-child dialogue and storybook reading in the electronic era. Mind Brain and Education, 7(3), 200–211.


Pew Research Center. (2018). Nearly one in five Americans now listen to audiobooks. Schugar, H., Smith, C., & Schugar, J. (2013). Teaching with interactive picture e-books in grades k-6. The Reading Teacher, 66(8), 615-624. Segers, E., Nooigen, M., & de Mor, J. (2006). Computer vocabulary training in kindergarten with children with special needs. International Journal of Rehabilitation Research, 29, 343345. Shamir, A. & Baruch, D. (2012). Educational e-books: a support for vocabulary and early math for children at risk for learning disabilities. Educational Media International, 49(1). Singer, L., & Alexandria, P. (2017). Reading across mediums: Effect of reading digital and print texts on comprehension and calibration. The Journal of Experimental Education, 85, 155–172. teachnology. (2022). Whole language versus phonics instruction. What is the difference? Terada, Y., Merrill, S. & Gonser, S. (2021). The 10 most significant education studies of 2021. Edutopia.

Holly Rice is Associate Professor of Education at Cameron University. Before working at the collegiate level, she worked as an early childhood special education teacher. She teaches special education courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Her research interests include parents of children with disabilities and special education preservice teachers. She can be reached at


Teacher to Teacher Nicole Pearce and Jill M. Davis

Cultivating Social Justice During Interactive Read-alouds Focusing on Multiple perspectives Social and emotional learning (SEL) embodies an essential component of learning and development and fosters the ability to build and apply fundamental skills including healthy identities, emotional competence, goal setting, empathy, relationships, and responsibility (CASEL, 2022). Although often neglected due to emphasis on academics, SEL continues throughout the lifespan. For example, Erik Erikson (1982) stated that a person progresses through eight stages of development beginning at birth and continuing through the geriatric years. Each stage presents a central crisis consisting of antagonistic social-emotional forces pulling in opposite directions in which most need support for social and emotional success. The goal of any curriculum should be more than mastery of academic outcomes. Children need social and emotional competence for success with challenging academic content and learning experiences. A comprehensive curriculum integrating academics and the learning domains bolsters young children’s overall well-being and optimal outcomes (NAEYC, 2020). A key component to children’s success in the classroom and beyond includes social emotional development. The effects of the COVID pandemic on children’s mental health creates an even greater need to promote social emotional learning in the classroom (Moses, et al, 2021). Children build social emotional skills as they are immersed in many new experiences. Interactions with adults and peers promote understanding of culturally relevant roles and standards of their society and help them gain skills such as perspective taking, empathy, sympathy, friendships, conflict resolution, self-concept, and self-esteem (Vygotsky, 1978). This article presents a framework for integrating social emotional learning into literacy (see Figure 1). Figure 1: Conceptual Framework


Social justice comprises a valuable tool for supporting SEL by cultivating autonomy and advocacy. Fostering social justice through authentic situations and real-world challenges ensures children feel empowered with opportunities to make choices, pose questions, seek answers, and be accountable (Kesler et al., 2020). Social justice influences new ways to collaboratively think about and make changes to injustices to improve the world (Table 1; Ares, 2011; Soja, 2010; Taylor, 2018; Valenzuela et al., 2015). Table 1: Fostering Social Justice for Authentic SEL Social justice topics ● Awareness for injustices in the world ● Ability to understand the difference between fair and unfair ● Ability to differentiate fact from opinion to discern the truth ● Ability to see things from multiple perspectives ● Understanding that change is possible

Learning and development ● higher-order thinking, critical thinking, problem solving, innovation, and creativity ● awareness for injustices in the world ● understanding that change is possible ● knowledge of how to advocate against these injustices ● ability to see things from multiple perspectives

● Knowledge of how to advocate against ● ability to differentiate fact from opinion to these injustices

discern the truth ● ability to understand the difference between fair and unfair

Young children have difficulty taking the perspective of others (Borke, 1975). Piaget and Inhelder (1956) conducted an experiment later coined as the Three Mountain Task. The experiment demonstrated children begin to see the world through another person’s perspective between age four and age eight. Therefore, the early childhood years present an opportune time to foster children’s ability to see multiple perspectives. One component of social justice includes the ability to see things from multiple perspectives, specifically, the ability to differentiate


between fact and opinion to determine what is true and to examine diverse points. Thus, learning experiences that explore the perspectives of others in the literacy curriculum can be valuable in supporting understanding of social justice topics. Critical literacy is a framework for reading and analyzing texts (Vasquez et al., 2019). It is based on the work of Freire (1970) and the idea that readers are active participants in the literacy process, and that they construct understandings of the text based on previous knowledge, experiences, beliefs, and ideologies. Because one’s perspective shapes the way they understand what they read, there is no such thing as neutral texts (Vazquez, 2010). What a person reads is influenced by their individual perspective. However, it is not enough for children to only look at books from their own perspectives. They must also be able to take the perspectives of others and use this while examining what they read. This examination of texts through multiple perspectives is a key tenet of critical literacy. Adults need to provide a safe space to foster children’s ability to see multiple perspectives to facilitate learning. This safeguards against a child who has a different perspective based on background knowledge or experience from merely agreeing with the majority out of peer pressure, whether real or imagined (Levine & Resnick, 1993). Interactive read-alouds can provide a springboard for multiple social justice topics, especially the ability to see things from multiple perspectives. Interactive read-alouds create a vessel for collaborative learning experiences with social justice topics such as multiple perspectives in which children coconstruct meaning with teacher guidance (Hoffman, 2011; Kesler, et al., 2020). Interactive read-alouds utilizing high-quality literature from diverse genres and authors cultivate learning and development across the components of literacy (listening, speaking, reading, and writing), academic disciplines, and learning domains (Britt, et al., 2016; Fisher et al., 2004; Piper, et al., 2017). Children can engage in discussions about the text, co-constructing understandings and extending these understandings through multiple modes of learning (Fountas & Pinnell 2001; McClure & Fullerton 2017; Sipe, 2008). An interactive read-aloud is a multistep process (Fountas and Pinnell, 2020): 1. Before the read-aloud: introduction of the book to activate interest and prior knowledge 2. During the read-aloud: stopping at certain points for children to respond to questions and share their thinking 3. After the read-aloud: intentional questions posed to guide children to main points and key understandings of the text along with a follow up activity and revisiting the text to extend thinking and understanding Perspective taking emerges as children learn about themselves and their world through interactions (Piaget, 1951). Interactive read-alouds not only promote interactions between children and the teacher, but also between children and the characters through text-to-self connections. Kesler et al. (2020) in I Hear You: Teaching Social Justice in Interactive ReadAloud provide strategies and a template to plan interactive read-alouds to teach social justice.


Again, expanding the focus of learning beyond academics to include social emotional learning ensures children’s success in the classroom and beyond. During these interactive read-alouds children actively and collaboratively engage in SEL building knowledge of social justice through engaging and meaningful learning opportunities. The following three examples provide ideas to support children’s understanding of multiple perspectives through an interactive read-aloud. They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel (2016) demonstrates how perspective shapes what we see. Before reading, the teacher can activate prior knowledge by passing out magnified images of different parts of a cat to small groups of students. Pictures that zoom in on the eyes, nose, tongue, paws, and ears can be found through an image search on an internet browser. The teacher can invite the groups to guess what they are seeing before revealing they are different parts of a cat. This opening activity can lead to a discussion about how our perspectives might be different, even if we are looking at the same thing. The teacher can then introduce the book by telling the children, “In this book, a cat walks through the world with its whiskers, ears, and paws. Although the cat is the same, the illustrations change depending on who is looking at him. Let’s read to see who is looking at the cat and what their perspective is.” During the reading, the teacher can ask questions such as “Why do you think the page is illustrated this way?” to explore issues related to perspective. On the first page, the child sees a cat with large, gazing eyes, a smiling face, and a curled down tail rubbing against the child’s legs. This is very different than when the dog sees a skinny, scared-looking creature who is slinking away. The discussion can continue with the other animals, which include a fox, fish, mouse, bee, bird, flea, snake, skunk, worm, and bat. After reviewing who saw the cat, the book ends with an illustration of the cat's own perception as he looks at himself in a small puddle of water. After the read-aloud, the teacher can engage the students in thought provoking questions such as: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Why do you think the author wrote this story? Which characters liked the cat? How do you know what the characters thought of the cat? Do you like the cat? How does your perspective of the cat differ from one of the characters in the story?

Students can then create a collaborative book on a chosen object like in They All Saw a Cat with each student illustrating that objective from a specific perspective. For example, a car would look different from the perspective of the person driving it, a bicyclist riding next to it, an insect about to be hit by it, or a turtle crossing the road. Students will engage in research, as well as problem-solving and critical thinking skills, to find a creative and innovative way to convey their perspective through illustrations. Underlying social justice issues of fairness, such as who is benefited by the car (the driver) versus who is harmed (the insect) can be explored, as well as


who has the power and who has the disadvantage. Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (2009) presents an ambiguous image through a classic optical illusion that could be a duck or a rabbit. This book offers a humorous look at how one picture could be two different things depending on the reader’s perspective. Before reading, the teacher can show the illustration on the cover while reading the title of the book. Asking the children open-ended questions such as “What do you notice?” and “Why do you think the author decided to use this as the title of the book?” can begin a discussion on how one picture might elicit different perspectives. In this picture book, two off-screen narrators argue over what animal the image represents while providing evidence of why the picture is a duck (“See there’s his bill.”) or a rabbit (“Those are his ears, silly.”). The evidence offered during the book leads each narrator to agree it could be the opposite animal of what they originally thought. During the read aloud, there is ample opportunity to discuss how each narrator’s perspective is shown, such as the caption bubbles. Questions posed to activate thinking about perspectives could include: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

In this story, why were the two people disagreeing? Why do people disagree? What disagreement have you had with one of your friends? What feelings did you experience during this disagreement? When you have a different opinion than someone, did you try to figure out why the person sees things differently than you? 6. How does listening carefully to a different perspective show respect for that person? 7. Did you change your opinion when the other person shared their reasons for their different perspective? The final pages present a new image in which one narrator sees an anteater while the other sees a brachiosaurus posing the question, “What will happen next?” The children typically respond, “They will fight about what animal it is.” After reading the story, the teacher can lead children in a discussion about constructive ways to resolve differences in perspectives. A followup activity is to engage children in a debate where they can express their perspective of what animal is on the last page and provide evidence as support just like the narrators using the debate structure: 1) Introduction 2) Support your idea with 3-4 points, (why you believe in the topic you are debating) 3) Rebuttal (statement about why the opposing side’s claim is flawed or wrong). This debate has the potential to include four components of literacy (listening, speaking, reading, and writing). However, it can also be differentiated to include only some, if that meets the needs


of the individual learners in the class. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (2004) tells the story of a 10-year-old African American boy, Bud Calloway, who runs away from a toxic foster family to search for his real father during the Great Depression era. Many topics such as economics, history, geography, citizenship, culture, and friendships are supported as students explore what life was like during the 1930's for a young African American boy through the main character's eyes. Students can make connections from text-to-self by comparing what life was like for Bud to their own lives in the present time. Teachers can ask questions, such as “How would you feel if you were Bud?” and “What might you do in this situation?” to support these connections. The following questions evoke children to consider multiple perspectives by identifying the character’s perspective and providing evidence from the text. Then, children can decide if they agree or disagree and support with a reason. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Why does Bud think six is a tough age? How do you think Bud feels about Todd lying? How does Bud feel about being locked in the shed? How do you think Bud feels as he leaves the Amos house with his suitcase? What do you think Bud’s mother meant when she told him, “When one door closes, don’t worry, because another door opens?” 6. How do the people in line feel about the rich, white family in the picture that hangs over the mission building? 7. According to Bud, what does the phrase, “Haven’t you heard?” usually mean? How do you think Bud feels when he hears that Ms. Hill has moved away? Explain why you think he feels this way. 8. Why do you think the white people in Hooverville won’t accept help from others? 9. Why does Bud think ideas are like trees? 10. According to Bud’s rule number 87, what does it really mean when adults tell you they need help with a problem? 11. Why does Bud think it’s different to lie to a kid than to lie to an adult? 12. How do you think Bud feels when he realizes that Herman E. Calloway is very old? 13. How do you think Bud feels when Jimmy invites him to come to the Sweet Pea to eat? What makes you say that? 14. How does Bud feel about the band members? 15. Why do you think that Herman E. Calloway doesn’t like Bud? 16. What does Bud consider more important, the suitcase or the items inside the suitcase? 17. Why was Bud having so much fun doing chores? 18. Describe two emotions that Bud feels when he learns that Herman E. Calloway is his grandfather. Explain why Bud has these two feelings. 19. Why does Bud say that the squeaks and squawks of his saxophone were the closing of one door and the opening of another door?


As a post-reading activity, students could also interview grandparents and greatgrandparents about what life was like during the era of the book’s setting, the Great Depression. These interviews can explore their experiences in terms of the economy, culture, and society. Graphic organizers like a Venn Diagram could depict the similarities and differences of what life is like for the student today and Bud during the Great Depression. In conclusion, SEL continues throughout the lifespan and embodies an essential component of learning and development including healthy identities, emotional competence, goal setting, empathy, relationships, and responsibility (CASEL, 2022). Social justice encompasses understanding multiple perspectives which embodies a crucial component of SEL. Critical literacy evokes the idea that neutral texts do not exist, and readers are active participants in the literacy process constructing understandings of the text based on previous knowledge, experiences, beliefs, and ideologies. What a person reads is influenced by their individual perspective. Integrating SEL into the academic standards through interactive read-alouds focusing on the social justice topic of multiple perspective bolsters young children’s overall well-being and optimal outcomes. Social Justice Resources 7 ideas for social justice lesson plans: Using Inquiry to Teach Social Justice in the Classroom: Resource to find children’s books addressing social justice topics:

References Ares, N. (2011). Multidimensionality of cultural practices: Implications for culturally relevant science education. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 6(2), 381–388. Britt, S., Wilkins, J., Davis, J. & Bowlin, A. (2016). The benefits of interactive read-alouds to address social-emotional learning in classrooms for young children. Journal of Character Education, 12(2), 43-57. Borke, H. (1975). Piaget's mountains revisited: Changes in the egocentric landscape. Developmental Psychology, 11(2), 240. CASEL. (2022). What is social and emotional learning? What is SEL? - Casel Schoolguide. Retrieved January 31, 2022, from


Derman-Sparks, L. (n.d.). Guide for selecting anti-bias children’s books. Social Justice Books: A Teaching for Change Project. Curtis, C. P. (2004). Bud, not Buddy. Laurel Leaf. Erikson, E. H. (1982). The Life Cycle Completed. W.W. Northan & Company. Fisher, D., Flood, J., Lapp, D., and Frey, N. (2004). Interactive read‐alouds: Is there a common set of implementation practices? The Reading Teacher, 58(1), 8-17. Fountas, I. C. & Pinnell, G. S. (2020) Fountas and Pinnell Literacy blog. Retrieved from Fountas, I. C. & Pinnell, G. S. (2001). Guided Reading. Heinemann. Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Continuum. Hoffman, J. L. (2011). Co-constructing meaning: Interactive literary discussions in kindergarten read-alouds. The Reading Teacher, 65, 183–194. Kesler, T., Mills, M. & Reilly, M (2020). I hear you: Teaching social justice in interactive readaloud. Language Arts, 97 (4). Levine, J. M., & Resnick, L. B. (1993). Social Foundations of Cognition. Annual Review of Psychology, 44, 585-612. McClure, E. L., & Fullerton, S. K. (2017). Instructional interactions: Supporting students’ reading development through interactive read‐alouds of informational texts. The Reading Teacher, 71(1), 51-59. Moses, A., Powers, S., & Reschke, K. (2021). Social and emotional development: For our youngest learners and beyond. Young Children, 76(1). NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children). 2020. Developmentally appropriate practice: A position statement of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. NAEYC. Piaget, J. (1951). Play, dreams, and imitation in childhood. Norton Press. Piaget, J., & Inhelder, B. (1956). The child's concept of space. Norton Press. Piper, R. E., Pittman, R. T., & Vice, T. A. (2017). Using multicultural children’s literature to address social issues: The power of interactive read aloud. The Reading Teacher, 71(5), 569-577. Rosenthal, A. K., & Lichtenheld, T. (2009). Duck! Rabbit!. Chronicle Books. Sipe, L. R. (2008). Storytime: Young children’s literary understanding in the classroom. Teachers College Press. Soja, E. W. (2010). Seeking spatial justice. University of Minnesota Press. Taylor, K. (2018). The role of public education in place remaking: From a retrospective walk through my hometown to a call to action.pdf. Cognition and Instruction, 36(3), 188–198. Valenzuela, A., Zamora, E., & Rubio, B. (2015). Academia Cuauhtli and the eagle: “Danza Mexica” and the epistemology of the circle. Voices in Urban Education, 41, 46–56. Vasquez, V. M. (2010). Getting beyond “I like the book”: Creating space for critical literacy in the K-6 classroom. International Literacy Association.


Vasquez, V. M., Janks, H., & Comber, B. (2019). Critical literacy as a way of being and doing. Language Arts, 96(5), 300-311. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press. Wenzel, B. (2016). They all saw a cat. Chronicle Books.

Dr. Nicole Pearce taught pre-kindergarten through 6th grade in Arkansas and Oklahoma public schools. Her last four years in a Reggio inspired school enhanced her beliefs in focusing on whole child learning and development for optimal student outcomes. She received her Ph.D. in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum with an emphasis in Early Childhood from the University of Oklahoma. She began her career as a professor at Texas A&M-Commerce in Fall 2015 and can be reached at

Dr. Jill M. Davis is an Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, OK. She works with students majoring in early childhood and elementary education. Her research focuses on social justice issues, including advocacy and diversity in children’s literature, as well as math education in the early years. She can be reached at


Professional Development: Off the Shelf Maribeth Nottingham

Worth A Thousand Words: Using Graphic Novels to Teach Visual and Verbal Literacy: A Review

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” (Fred R. Barnard, 1927) Ad man Fred Barnard first posted a form of this quote in 1913. He was printing an advertisement for a local auto supply house. The 1913 quote read “One look is worth a thousand words,” but in 1927 he changed it to the quote we all recognize today. I think about these words often when discussing graphic novels (GN) with my peers and my pre-service teachers. Finding these words in the title of a book that focuses on helping parents and educators embrace GNs in lessons was both a surprise and, after reading it, a real treat. Meryl Jaffee and her daughter Talia Hurwich worked together to provide educators with a tool that not only gives you the building blocks of lesson ideas, it gives you entire lessons planned out. In the preface of this book, Dr. Jaffee confesses she did not always embrace GNs in the classroom or for her own children’s reading pleasure. She felt they were not appropriate for the “well-read” classification. She grew up with comics like Archie and Veronica or super-hero versions. It was her children that brought her over to the light! They had her read I Kill Giants, by Joe Kelly and J. M. Ken Nimura. She was, in her own words, “blown away.” As someone who spends a great deal of time and research trying to convince teachers to utilize GNs in their classrooms, I felt the title of Chapter One with my whole heart. In “Graphic Novels: Fears and Facts,” the authors take us through a list of valid fears. They share in great detail how GNs fit into a classroom setting, including where they fit in the standards. In fact, throughout this book they give us examples, websites, research, and details that should make using GNs in the classroom a breeze. They share strategies for reading the novels and


understanding the vocabulary that is unique to GNs. Beginning in Chapter Three, lessons are included. The authors also share assessment ideas for each lesson. These are not surface level lessons—they include group and independent work, debriefing, vocabulary, GN examples, and scripted instructions. This is a “How to” for teaching graphic novels in deep and meaningful lessons that should build rich literacy instruction in any classroom. I also love that it is NOT just about the reading itself but also covers GNs and the writing process. They do this while providing resources, references, and guidelines for supporting your GN choices and classroom libraries. Lastly, the authors make sure you feel like they are on this journey with you. They don’t want to leave you unsupported and out there on your own. They feel GNs will “empower” you! I love that—I also want educators to feel the power behind students reading a great graphic novel. “Reading without graphics is perceiving (thinking), seeing is believing (confirmation).” (Robert Nottingham, 2022)


Jaffe, M., & Hurwich, T. (2018). Worth a thousand words: Using graphic novels to teach visual and verbal literacy. Jossey-Bass. Kelly, J., & Niimura, J. M. K. (2010). I kill giants. Image Comics.

Mary Elizabeth (Maribeth) Nottingham is an associate professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University at Durant, OK, where she also serves as the Early Childhood Coordinator. She was recently honored as a recipient of the Faculty Senate Teaching Award in Education for the Educational and Behavioral Sciences Department and currently serves as coeditor of The Oklahoma Reader. She can be reached at


Children’s and Young Adult Literature – Structured Reviews Sue Christian Parsons

Understanding the Refugee Experience through Literature for Children and Young Adults

A refugee is an individual forced to leave their homeland due to war or other violence, persecution, or disaster (UNHCR, 2016). Such displacement is a historical constant in human society, an ancient and persistent tale, one that is vigorously playing out in the world today. In the past year, my own community, like others around the nation and world, has welcomed refugees from the war in Afghanistan. Many of these are children. Worldwide, as of mid-2021, an estimated 84 million people are forcibly displaced; 35 million of those are children (UNHCR, n.d.). The causes of the crisis are complex, interconnected with such human forces as culture, religion, ethnicity, and the thirst for power, often enacted through violence and cruelty, and accompanied by hunger, thirst, and fear. As refugees move, human lives become political conversations, nations weighing what they can and cannot or will not do to harbor them. Amid all this hard stuff, we also witness great love, courage, and determination to find a way to care for the strugglers, both by individuals, organizations, and communities. Each book explored below offers insights into the refugee experience. Some are appropriate for very young readers and thinkers while others, more complex in construction, scope, or concept, are better suited for older ones. Since many picture books are included, it is important to note that books in picture book format are not automatically intended for younger readers. In fact, the interplay between art and text in a picture book offers layers of meaning that come together in powerful synergy. Thus, picture books warrant careful consideration and lend themselves well to rereading for new insights. I’ve offered a suggestion of appropriate audience for each book, but reader experiences and interests may push those boundaries. For many readers, these books will offer new insight into what people who are refugees experience. Others may find reflections of their own lives, a respect all readers deserve. Each book lends itself to dialogue and response, with readers sharing perspectives and considering implications for how to be in the world. No one book can capture what it means to be a refugee. While the books addressed are roughly categorized according to topic, they can be connected to each other in myriad ways so that, considered together, they illuminate the many facets of the refugee experience. Some


central themes emerging from text-to-text analysis (Wolf, 2003) are offered at the end of this article. Understanding the Refugee Experience: Voices We are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World by Malala Yousafzai (2019). Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai’s story is known around the globe. Her powerful voice raised in support of women’s rights to education led to an assassination attempt by the Taliban. Her survival led to her voice being amplified around the globe, melding with those of other activists to advocate for educational rights as human rights. A core theme of Malala’s activism has been that women’s voices are their most powerful weapon. In We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World, Malala begins with her own story of being forced into exile from her beloved home, inviting the reader in, then stepping aside to amplify the stories of other strong, determined young women she has met through her human rights work. Though the women hail from various countries, similarities across experiences speak to the scope and persistence of strife that launches people from their homes. The quote that opens the book, “no one leaves home unless/home is the mouth of a shark/you only run for the border/when you see the whole city is running as well” (Shire, 2009) 1, is illuminated “I have never felt ‘at again and again in the stories these women tell. home’ in any other place than the one I keep alive Malala introduces each speaker, telling how she met them in my head, from when I was a child, before the and a snippet of insight into each personality and context. The world changed.” Maria result is the sense that she is the admiring hostess to this party of powerful young women determined to change the world. Fleeing horrific violence and desperate situations, sometimes with family and sometimes quite alone, these young women traveled from Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Columbia, Guatemala, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Myanmar. They left behind loved ones and beloved homes, endured harrowing escapes to face hardship in refugee camps and animosity from people in their new communities. Detailed but matter-of-fact narration sheds light on both trauma and courage. Rich descriptions of homelands reinforce the importance of place in human lives, helping readers understand the significance of being displaced. Love, too, shines brightly in these narratives, as 1

Read the entire poem “Home” by Warsan Shire (2009) and get ideas for learner engagement here:


families go to extreme lengths to protect and care for each other. Hope, persistent and enacted, emerges, too, held tenaciously by refugees and offered generously by helpers, including various organizations shown at work to make the world better for displaced individuals and, thus, all of us. Suggested for upper elementary through adult The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees by Don Brown (2018) Brown, a master of the nonfiction graphic novel, is particularly adept at explaining complex social events, from catalysts to consequences, while maintaining a strong focus on the human experience. In March 2011, in the middle of the Arab Spring protest movement that swept through Northern Africa and the Middle East, some teenage boys scrawled a message of protest against the dictatorial regime of Syrian President Assad. Their arrest and torture sparked protests that are met with deadly force from the government forces. The protests grew, and so did the response from the armed forces—homes burned, people were kidnapped, tortured, killed. Syria ignited in violence, and the people begin to flee. The graphic novel format allows Brown to cover a lot of ground to show readers the scope, depth, and complexity of this crisis, but without overwhelming with text. Deft explanations of the sociopolitical context (including religious conflict) and the complexities of seeking and offering asylum intertwine with panels featuring refugees of various ages and genders, all making their way out of Syria in search of safety. Illustrations, maps, and graphs make settings and attempted pathways clear, while characters, often speaking directly to the reader, flesh out the human struggle and sociopolitical realities, including increasingly powerful nativist views in potential welcoming countries. Statistics are carefully selected and contextualized, often offered with analogy to support understanding. Readers learn about refugee processes, such as the difference between registered and unregistered refugees and the workings of refugee camps, and of the work of both governmental and non-governmental support organizations. As the stories unfold and intertwine, important insights and themes about the refugee crisis emerge, including the desperate circumstances that prompt immigration, the treacherous nature of escape, the incredible scope of the Syrian refugee crisis, the need for access to education, and, importantly, the many people and organizations who are trying to help. Suggested for middle grades through adult


Understanding the Refugee Experience: Information What is a Refugee? By Elise Gravel (2019) Gravel answers the title question, and those that naturally follow it, simply and directly. Beginning with “a refugee is a person, just like you and me,” she continues with reasons people may have to leave their homes, the process and difficulty of finding a new place that offers a normal life with peace and safety, and the power of welcoming kindness to heal lives. The colorful, graphic style illustrations are simple but effective in depicting refugee experiences. End pages feature quotes from refugee children telling about themselves and brief biographies about famous refugees. Perfect for younger readers but illuminating for all ages. Far From Home: Refugees and Migrants Fleeing War, Persecution, and Poverty by Cath Senker (2018). Far From Home explores the reasons people leave their homes in search of better lives through a series of case studies. Senker clarifies the difference between “refugee” and “migrant,” also addressing the sometimes-confounding fluidity in the terms in real life. She explains that the common practice of categorizing refugees under the blanket term “migrants,” takes attention away from the specific needs of refugees and can undermine support from them.” Though Senker introduces a few migrants and their reasons for relocating (usually work), the focus is on refugee experiences. For each case study, Senker provides additional information about reasons and circumstances, drawing heavily on the power of well-crafted sidebars and captioned photos. Readers are introduced to reasons people must flee such as war and persecution, including gender, religious, and ethnic. Processes and experiences of escape and relocation are explained—the many ways refugees may fall victim to violence, fraud, or calamity on the journey and political wranglings as countries wrestle with how or whether to support them. Importantly, Senker also addresses the long-term challenges refugees face, including difficulty getting an education, learning a new language, and garnering care for physical and mental health challenges resulting from trauma. The final chapter addresses proposed solutions to the refugee crisis, such as designating official routes and distributing numbers of refugees evenly between receiving countries. Back matter includes a timeline of the Syrian refugee crisis from 2011 to


2018, a glossary, suggestions for further reading, a bibliography, and a detailed index. Suggested for middle level through adult. Understanding the Refugee Experience: The Journey Wishes by Muon Thi Van, illustrated by Victor Ngai (2021) Wistful, yearning verse anchors this emotional voyage of a family leaving home in search of safe harbor. With one simple, evocative line on each spread, the details of the story unfold through the art, from preparations under the cover of darkness, through the perilous journey, and on to the possibility of safety. The voice is that of a child in the family. In most scenes, Ngai highlights the child’s face, expressive with emotion, often angling the perspective to suggest her gaze on the action. Broader perspective scenes show the scope of the trip, such as the family following a path winding through a broad landscape or a single crowded boat in a wide sea. The topic is a difficult one, but Van and Ngai soften the hardest moments (most profoundly a baby dying on the crossing) by taking the focus visually off the main character child and using language broad enough to invite questions but also allow the reader to easily skim past. Throughout, hope shines in every image with a persistent glow, often highlighting the child’s face. Recommended for all ages Adrift at Sea: A Vietnamese Boy’s Story of Survival by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch with Tuan Ho. Illustrated by Brian Deines (2016). Some of the most striking images in 20th century U.S. history are of the evacuation of people out of Vietnam as Saigon fell to North Vietnamese forces in late April of 1978. Thousands of at-risk individuals, including diplomatic staff, a few remaining troops, and at-risk South Vietnamese were ferried via helicopter out of Saigon to U.S. ships waiting nearby (Brockell, 2021). In the weeks prior, Operation Babylift carried approximately 3,300 children out of Vietnam, an act later roundly criticized for separating some of those babies from families who loved and wanted them (Operation Babylift: 1975, n.d.). South Vietnamese remaining in Saigon faced horrid circumstances, from violence and persecution to crushing economic conditions, so the flow of refugees continued for years.


Tuan Ho was six years old when he, his mother, and two sisters dodged bullets to board a tiny boat in hopes of making it out of Vietnam to join his father and older sister in Canada. First published in Canada and the U.S., this book is likely to reach many readers who can hardly fathom living through such dangerous circumstances. Skypuch’s crafting offers accessibility to a wide range of readers. She tells the story in brief scenes, keeping the focus narrowly on Tuan and his experiences. Scene choices often feature universal experiences such as coming home from school or having conversations with a parent. The familiarity serves simultaneously to comfort and challenge. For example, Tuan’s mother offers water when Tuan is thirsty, a universal kind of comfort, but she can only offer a capful at a time because water is scarce, a tension that punctuates the dire situation. Pacing choices enhance accessibility for a young audience as well. While hard events and treacherous details are addressed clearly and directly (guns are fired at the family as they run to board the skiff taking them out to sea, another refugee boat burns and sinks), the pacing moves the reader quickly past them. As Tuan endures long hours in the boat, the sentences lengthen a bit, the pace more languid, but time is explicitly marked with skipping days: “on the first day,” then “on the third day,” “on the fifth day.” Though the boat drifts, Skypuch doesn’t leave the reader to drift into despair, moving quickly to Tuan’s mother’s seeing a hopeful omen in dolphins surrounding the boat and on to the sighting of the aircraft carrier that will rescue them. Engaging and detailed back matter explains the sociopolitical context that led to the flood of “boat people” refugees out of Vietnam and offers the rest of the story. Tuan and his family made it first to refugee camps and eventually to reunite in Canada where he lives today. Recommended for third grade and up. The Paper Boat: A Refugee Story by Thao Lam (2020). Like the folded paper artwork in this wordless picture book, the story of escape, journey, and refuge told here has layered intricacies to explore. Early scenes show a child at the dinner table, rescuing ants from the sugar water placed to lure them away from the food. A military tank glimpsed through a window sends the adults hurriedly gathering money and belongings. Under the cover of darkness, the family flees, mother and child taking a different path from the father and grandmother—with a few ants tagging along. On their way to the shore, the pair is overheard by armed soldiers who search the high grasses where they hide. A moon beam spotlights a line of ants moving steadily along. Mother and child follow them quietly, arriving at the shore. The coast is still not clear, so they hide quietly again, waiting. The mother offers a snack from a paper wrapper, then folds a paper boat, a little entertainment as they wait. Finally, the pair make their way out of the weeds to a small boat. As she boards, the child drops


the paper boat on the shore…and the focus of the story changes. Instead of showing the journey of the family, Lam has the ants tell the story of a treacherous crossing. Aboard the paper boat, they battle weather, fend off predators, wilt in the hot sun, and toss in a storm—effective allegory for the experiences of the family making this trek and, more broadly, of vulnerable human beings too easily scattered. When we meet the human family again, they are all safely gathered around a table in a new place, and the ants are there, too. An author’s note explains how Lam’s family experiences inspired the story, including a story her mother tells of being rescued by ants. Recommended for all ages. Story Boat by Kyo McClear, illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh (2020). The refugee experience is marked by both great loss and great hope. This gentle story doesn’t shy from the loss but holds tightly to the hope. Drawn with soft lines and in a palate of orange, tan, and blue, a group travels in search of a home, stopping here and there to rest. Though the children in the group don’t know where they are, they do know they are “here.” Here changes, but home is consistent. It is found in the worn cup that holds the nourishment of food and memory. It is in the blanket they snuggle under each night and the solar powered lamp that offers a beacon in the dark. It is in songs sung together and flowers in a field. Here, on this journey, “Every week,/We dream and draw,/Make and play,/Search for treasure,/Find our way/And grow,/And wait/And wait/And wait/Adding words to this story./And this story is a boat.” In the final scene, the travelers are in a boat reaching a dock where they are warmly welcomed. Recommended for all ages. Migrants by Issa Watanabe (2020). A diverse group of anthropomorphized animals travel communally across a dark, foreboding landscape toward an unknown destination. The mood is somber, their expressions determined. As the migrants move forward, Death travels a short distance behind, a small skeletal creature wearing a floral wrap and traveling with a blue ibis. Rather than frightening and predative, Death, as portrayed, seems tentative and sad. Where the travelers stop to eat and rest, some color grows into the background, as if their caring community nurtures life. Reaching a river, they crowd together onto a small boat and launch, death riding the ibis above them. The boat disintegrates, forcing the animals to swim to shore, helping each other as best they can. One doesn’t make it alive. Death gently embraces the


dead rabbit, the foliage around them turning a dull gray. The others trudge on together in grief, still walking amid the grayed landscape until the background suddenly blooms in color again. Hope. Rich in symbolism, this wordless picture book warrants repeated readings to explore and consider and is likely to engender rich conversation. Recommended for upper elementary and above. Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey by Margaret Ruurs, illustrated by Nzar Ali Badr (2016). Nzar Ali Badr is a Syrian artist who creates scenes using nothing but stones. Ruurs, inspired by his captivating sculptures expressing the beauty of Syrian life and the heartbreak brought on by war, asked if she could build a story around them. The result of that collaboration is this story of Rumi and her family who, like so many others, were forced out of their beloved home by war, joining “a river of people in search of peace.” A young girl, Rumi narrates, sharing images of the journey and voicing her understanding of the confusing events. Ruurs keeps her focus tightly on the loving family, with an emphasis on the weary journey. Hard truths such as people dying on the way are mentioned but not shone. Instead, we see the family plant flowers to remember those who are lost. At the end of the journey, they find new neighbors who welcome them eagerly—“Stay with us. You will be safe now. No more war.” Such a neat ending belies the difficulties migrants often face in new places, a conversation to consider broaching with readers. The ending does serve to highlight hope for a younger audience of readers and, perhaps, model an accepting, loving response to immigrants. This is a bilingual text, the full story offered in both English and Arabic. Appropriate for young children, but all ages need to experience and consider the stunning art. Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan by Mary Williams, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (2005). In 1983, Sudan, plagued with conflict since it gained independence in the 1950s, erupted into violent Civil War— again. As is always the case with war, children were caught up in the conflict. Boys and young men were especially vulnerable, as the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army was forcing children into the fight as soldiers. An estimated 20,000


children fled to safety. These children became known as the Lost Boys of Sudan. (The lost boys of Sudan, 2014). Mary Williams was working for the U.S.-based International Rescue Committee in 2000 when she first heard the story of the Lost Boys. In 2001, she founded The Lost Boys Foundation to spread their story and raise funds to provide access to educational opportunities in the U.S. One of these boys, Garang, is the narrator to this true and harrowing tale that reveals the horror of war and the power of love and faith. Garang was tending to his family’s cattle when his village was destroyed. Disoriented and desperate, he begins to walk and soon encounters other wandering boys. They band together and make their way toward Ethiopia to seek refuge, moving only at night, through hunger, extreme thirst, and ever-present danger. They find a refugee camp in Ethopia, but are displaced again when war erupts there, eventually making their way to a camp in Kenya. Williams shares difficult aspects of the story candidly, but the care the boys show each other and their relentless hope shine through as well. Recommended for upper elementary and above. Understanding the Refugee Experience: Seeking Refuge Mexique: A Refugee Story from the Spanish Civil War by María José Ferrada, illustrated by Ana Penyas (2020). The Mexique set sail from Bordeaux, France on May 27, 1937, with 456 children on board. Their home, Spain, was embroiled in a fierce civil war. Their parents, Spanish Republicans who opposed rule by monarchy and fought for democracy, feared for their children’s lives, so they sent them away to Morelia, Mexico. There they would be sheltered by people who sided with the Republicans in the war. Their stay was to be temporary, just a few months, until things calmed down. But calm never came. With the monarchists in power, it wasn’t safe for the children to return home, so they stayed in exile for years before World War II made it possible for some to return. The Mexican government provided basic support, but the trauma took its toll on this group who came to be known as the “Children of Morelia.” Ferrada’s telling of this event is poignant. The narrator, one of the children, is perplexed but trusting. Thrust into this strange place, unsure of exactly where they are going, the children cling to their parents’ promises of “[t]hree or four months” and to the hands of older girls who do their best to care for them. Like the sea they cross, the narrative ebbs and flows, moving between events on board to poetic reflections on war and displacement. “In the crowd, I hold my suitcase


tight/(a suitcase is also a clump of earth, a house….We think that the war stayed behind./But it’s not true—we bring the war in our suitcases.” A meaty afterword details the history. Ferrada, a journalist, conducted extensive research, including exploration of primary documents and interviews. Penyas’s illustrations draw on photographs of the children and the ship. An extensive author’s note provides background on the historical context. While many of the selections addressed in this article focus on contemporary experiences, Mexique’s historical perspective reminds us of the persistence of displacement. Recommended for all ages. Lubna and Pebble by Wendy Meddour, illustrated by Daniel Egnéus (2019). When the boat that brought Lubna and her daddy across the water finally reaches the beach, Lubna finds a pebble. Holding tightly to it with one hand and to her daddy with the other, they enter “a World of Tents.” Lubna finds a marker and draws a smiling face on her pebble, claiming it as her friend. Lubna tells Pebble everything that had happened to her. Pebble listens patiently. When the weather turns cold, Lubna worries that Pebble will get sick. Her father makes Pebble a warm bed from a cardboard box. Lubna soon meets Amir, a child who is alone. She introduces Amir to Pebble, and the two children play together in the camp. “You are still my best friend,” Lubna assures Pebble. Soon Lubna learns that she and Daddy will be leaving for a new home. Amir worries. What will happen to him? Lubna gives him Pebble to be his friend while he waits for better circumstances, too. Egnéus draws us in to Lubna’s experience with close-ups on her expressive face. When Lubna and Amir play, his illustrations transform the tent city into a magical landscape. The simple story is intimately crafted with seemingly small details speaking volumes about the refugee experience, including great love and resilience. This one is perfect for young readers. From the Tops of the Trees by Kao Kalia Yang, illustrated by Rachel Wada (2021). Kao Kalia Yang was born in the Ban Vinai Refugee Camp in Thailand. In this gentle memoir, she captures the moment her father helped her to see the world beyond the fences. In the camp, food was scarce. Kalia and her sisters listened to the aunties talk about the war, the river they crossed to escape, and their worries for the future. Kalia’s father reassures her—she is safe, and her hands and feet “will travel far to find peace.” But all Kalia knows is the camp. She asks,


“Is all the world a refugee camp?” ‘What is the world outside this camp like?’ Kalia’s father asks her mother to dress Kalia in her nice dress and hat. He borrows a camera and, with Kalia clinging to his back, eyes tightly shut, he climbs to the very top of the tallest tree in the camp. Opening her eyes, Kalia sees beyond the camp all the way to the distant mountains. ‘One day,’ her father assures her, ‘my little girl will journey far into the world, to the places her father has never been.’ The photo her mother snapped that day is displayed above the author’s note, showing Kalia and her father peering from the top of the trees. In that note, she explains that she has, indeed, traveled far, seeing sights around the world, in peace—and that, in her own way, she takes her father with her. Recommended for all ages Understanding the Refugee Experience: War How War Changed Rondo by Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv (2021). Rondo was an uncommonly beautiful town, known especially for its beautiful singing flowers. People loved living there. Danko, a transparent, luminous fellow who studied plants, Fabian, a balloon dog from a long line of treasure hunters, and Zirka, an origami bird who loved to travel, loved it most of all. One beautiful day, as the three good friends were on their way to meet, war rumbled in, “black and scary,” spreading seeds of destruction that grew to block the sun. Rondo was plunged into a darkness, bewildering the residents, wilting, and silencing the singing flowers. The three friends tried to reason with war, then to fight war with war, but to no avail. In a desperate attempt to save the singing flowers in the greenhouse, Danko powers a light with his bicycle to shine on them. The light revives them a bit but, when a slip misdirects the light onto war, Danko discovers an important truth: light weakens war. The three friends rally the residents to work together to create a light machine to throw many beams into the darkness. War retreats, but Danko, Fabian, Zirka, and many others are left to live with permanent wounds. Even the flowers are changed forever, blooming now only as red poppies. (A note informs readers that red poppies are an international symbol of war remembrance.) Fantasy literature often invites readers in with whimsy and imagination, then leads them to consider deep truths about life. How War Changed Rondo is an example of such work, offering an accessible moral but also layers of critical conversation. Bold, fanciful artwork offers a wealth of opportunities to read beyond the surface. The three friends suggest qualities that sustain and connect us as people—inner light and an eagerness to share and nurture with it, playfulness and an eagerness to discover, an interest in the world around and in each other, and a willingness to act in loyalty, kindness, and commitment to community. War is dark, destructive,


difficult to understand, and more difficult to sustain. Though hope shines, the result of good people working together for peace, Rondo and its surviving inhabitants are, realistically, forever changed by war. Ukrainian artists Romanyshyn and Lesiv created the book collaboratively, inspired by “the arrival of war in Ukraine in their own lifetimes.” Originally written in 2015, this English translation reached readers in 2021. The timing is achingly relevant given the current context in Ukraine. Recommended for all ages. The Day War Came by Nikola Davies, illustrated by Rebecca Cobb One moment the girl was in school, learning about volcanoes, singing a song about tadpoles, and drawing a picture of a bird. The next, the world exploded into smoke and fire and a noise she didn’t understand. When it came, “War took everything. War took everyone. I was ragged, bloody, all alone.” The girl follows along with other fleeing people, eventually making her way to a refugee camp, safe but not well. War was behind her, but it was also in her. She eventually makes her way to a school but is told there isn’t a chair for her. As she returns to huddle dejectedly in her little shelter, a boy from the school appears, carrying a chair for her so she can go to school. Nicola Davies wrote the free verse poem that became this book in response to news that the UK would not allow 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children to enter and stay. Near that time, Davies heard of a refugee child being turned away from a school because there was not a chair available for her to sit on. The poem, first published in The Guardian (Davies, 2016), is at once her protest, a call to awareness and action, and a statement of solidarity. Its publication inspired a Twitter campaign (#3000chairs) asking people to post pictures of empty chairs. The picturebook version, with Cobb’s moving illustrations, reaches an even broader audience. In her Briley Memorial Lectureship speech, given at the United States Board of Books for Young People conference in 2019, author Nicola Davies spoke of hope as a moral obligation (The moral obligation of hope, 2019). This book calls readers of all ages to contribute all they can to make hope for refugee children a reality. Recommended for all ages.


Understanding the Refugee Experience: Adjustment and Welcome The Suitcase by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros (2020). A stranger arrives in town, an unusual looking animal dragging with him a large suitcase. The rabbit, bird, and fox who encounter him want to know what is in his suitcase. A teacup, says the stranger, and a table and chair in a kitchen where the stranger makes his tea, all in a little cabin on a hillside with trees, near the ocean. Exhausted from his long journey, the new arrival excuses himself to sleep. He dreams of running away, hiding, and swimming across deep waters, and of his suitcase with all it holds. While he sleeps, the others, sure he’s lying about the contents, break into his suitcase. Inside they find a broken teacup and a picture of a photograph of the stranger at home in his cabin having tea. Suspicion slowly shifts to understanding. When the stranger awakes, he finds that his new friends have glued together his cup and recreated his house—so he invites them for tea. The fanciful characters invite readers to see anyone, and everyone, welcomed into a new community, with kindness and understanding. Appropriate for the youngest readers but recommended for all. My Two Blankets by Irene Kobald, illustrated by Freya Blackwood (2015). The narrator, known for her joyful, continual cartwheels before the war, no longer felt like herself. In the new place, where they came to be safe, everything was strange, especially the language. “When I went out, it was like standing under a waterfall of strange sounds. The waterfall was cold. It made me feel alone.” Her own language, on the other hand, felt like a warm blanket wrapped around her. When she met a kind girl in the park, she wanted to make a friend, but the language barrier held her back. When the new girl started bringing paper shapes to share, each a new word, the narrator begins to weave those words into a new “blanket” of words. “My new blanket grew just as warm and soft and comfortable as my old blanket. And now, no matter which blanket I use, I will always be me.” Koblad, a multilingual teacher who is, herself, an immigrant, wrote the story to honor a friendship between her daughter and a young Syrian refugee. The book offers encouragement to both newcomers and welcomers that reaching out can help make home better for everyone. Appropriate for early elementary and up.


Salma, the Syrian Chef by Danny Ramadan, illustrated by Anna Bron (2020). Salma and her mother have made it from the refugee camp to a new home in Canada. They live in an apartment in the Welcome Center while they wait for Salma’s father to be able to join them in Canada. They are safe and surrounded by helpers, but mama never laughs anymore. Salma can’t bring her father sooner. She can’t rebuild their home in Syria. But she does get an idea about how to help her mother. She will cook her an authentic Syrian meal. But how? Her friends at the welcome center know the dishes they yearn for, but no one knows how to make foul shami. Making the dish is easier said than done, though. She doesn’t have the English words to communicate the ingredients she needs, and she can’t find an important spice. With the help of her friends at the center, Salma is able to put together a not-so-perfect but perfectly lovely Syrian dish for her mother, minus the olive oil she drops and breaks on the floor. Salma’s mama is happily surprised with her gift, but when the friends from the welcome center arrive at their door carrying olive oil and bringing community to the apartment, her mother laughs and laughs. The residents at the welcome center represent a variety of global communities from countries who have recently experienced strife—Lebanon, Jordan, Somalia, and Iraq—including a same-sex couple. All are finding together, with the help of welcoming friends, a new home, different but good. Recommended for early and upper elementary. Everything Sad is Untrue: A True Story by Daniel Nayeri (2021) Khosrou was born in Iran to a wealthy, prestigious family. His father was a dentist. His mother was a physician, but when she converted to Christianity and got involved in the underground church, she “got a fatwa on her head, which means the government wanted her dead” (p. 15), so she fled with her children. Khosrou’s father stayed behind. After waiting in a refugee camp in Italy, the family received sponsorship from a church to come live in the United States. So, 8year-old Khosrou became Daniel, who is now a 12-year-old boy in Edmond, Oklahoma, who lives with his mother and sister. He is in Mrs. Miller’s class in school. He rides the poor-kid bus home, dodging beatings as best he can, just as his mother dodges beatings from her abusive new husband. And he tells stories, sharing them in class at his teacher’s request but also in hopes his classmates will see him as more than the smelly refugee kid in the back of the room. But most of all, Daniel tells stories because storytelling is part of him. His classmates think that


all Persians are liars, but Daniel’s father tells him that “Persians aren’t liars. They’re poets, which is worse. Poets don’t even know when they are lying. They’re just trying to remember their dreams” (p. 1). And so is Daniel trying to make sense of his own story, piecing together his early childhood memories because “a patchwork memory is the shame of a refugee” (p. 37). Like Scheherazade in 1001 Nights, Daniel tells stories to save himself, to hold on to and make sense of his life. Nayeri’s narrative style in this fictionalized memoir is at once intricate and intimate. Stories of Daniel’s life and family, past and present, weave together with Arabic folklore. He alternates between philosophical musing and laugh out loud humor (often of the middle-school brand, complete with poop jokes). Daniel’s ache to belong is intense, but even more powerful is his mother’s unwavering love, faith, and courage that, like his ancestor’s stories, guide him through. Recommended for middle school and up. The author-narrated audiobook is outstanding Understanding the Refugee Experience: Central Concepts The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin (2017) What can happen when people in power seek to silence others? The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet invites conversations into the importance of voices being heard and the courage it takes to speak out in an oppressive context, as well as our responsibility to live in community with respect for each other’s needs. Like many of the best picture books, this one invites insight and connection in a variety of ways, supporting learners at various levels of maturity and with varied background knowledge. Deedy came to the U.S. as a refugee from Cuba in 1960 when she was three years old (Interview, n.d.). Illustrator Yelchin grew up in the Soviet Union where possibilities were limited and speaking out against the government had dire consequences. His memoir, The Genuis Under the Table, details his childhood experiences. Yelchin emigrated to the U.S. after being officially deemed a “persona non grata” in the U.S.S.R. (Goddo, 2021). The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet is appropriate for early elementary and up. The Genius Under the Table for upper elementary and up.


The Chickens Build a Wall by Jean-François Dumont (2011). Dumont is known for his entertaining but thought-provoking allegories for young readers. When a hedgehog shows up in the barnyard, the other animals clammer with surprise, having never seen such a creature! Overwhelmed, the hedgehog curls into a ball until nightfall when the other animals fall asleep. His absence fuels suspicion. The hens check to see if eggs or chicks were missing. When an attention-seeking chicken suggests there are fewer worms today than yesterday, and others quickly agree. The rooster, seeing the opportunity to be important, launches a plan to protect the henhouse from “prickly invaders.” So, the chickens begin to build a wall, higher and higher, through the cold winter, until it was so high the top could not be seen from the bottom. Just as the last brick was laid and the exhausted chickens hoped for rest, the hedgehog emerged from the straw he had hibernated in. Because there was no door in the wall, he had to wait until the rooster could dig one out. In the meantime, chickens and hedgehog got used to each other and weren’t afraid anymore. Comical illustrations delight and lend an appropriate sense of absurdity to the tale that reminds us that strangers are only strangers until we know them, and our efforts are more wisely spent on connecting than building walls. Appropriate for very young readers, with humor and wisdom for all ages. Every Child a Song by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Marc Martin (2020) The free verse poem in this picture book was written in honor of the 30th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Speaking directly to children, Davies asserts and celebrates their uniqueness and inherent value. Every child brings a new and very special melody into the world, but each one needs to be nurtured, nourished, and protected, named, celebrated, and included. “Whatever melody a song sings,/ each one is true and beautiful;/ unique and special as your own. No song should be worn away to silence…/No song should be drowned out…/nor stolen or made to sing the tune of darkness, hate, and war.” Davies encourages all to raise their voices in support of the right for every child to sing their song in joy, love, and freedom. A forward explains what it means for a human being to have rights and describes the work the UNCRC does to try to ensure that every child gets what they need. A child-friendly version of the United States Convention on the Rights of a Child agreement can be found here: Recommended for all ages.


Understanding the Refugee Experience: Connections Refugee by Alan Gratz (2017). In Refugee, Gratz tells three different stories, each marking an historical event that pushed masses of people out of their homes and into the uncertainty of refugee life. In 1938, 12-year-old Josef and his family flee from Nazi Germany aboard the St. Louis bound for Cuba. Josef’s father had been sent to a concentration camp in the wake of Kristallnacht. Released, but incapacitated by trauma, he joins the family on the journey. When the St. Louis reaches Cuba, they learn only a few passengers will be allowed to disembark. Aaron’s father jumps from the ship in a suicide attempt but is rescued and taken to the island. The others in the family are denied. The ship returns to Europe where they are resettled in France. But the war finds them again, with tragic consequences. When Josef’s mother is forced to choose between saving one child and sending the other to a concentration camp, Josef offers himself to save his sister Ruthie. In 1994, 11-year-old Isabel and her family board a small hand-made vessel heading to the U. S. from Cuba to escape Castro’s regime. Her father is wanted by the Cuban police for protesting Castro’s policies. When Castro unexpectedly lifts laws forbidding Cuban citizens to leave, Isabel rallies her family, including her pregnant mother, to join their neighbors in a hasty escape. But when the neighbor’s police-officer son suddenly joins them on the board, the police open fire to stop the desertion, resulting in a bullet hole in the boat. On the journey ahead, the two families fight to keep the boat afloat. Isabel’s grandfather reveals that he was the officer responsible for turning away the St. Louis all those years before, so should be the one to sacrifice himself to lighten the load on their compromised vessel. Another in their group dies on the journey, too, but Isabel’s mother gives birth to a healthy boy whom Isabel carries to shore and into a new life. Thirteen-year-old Mahmoud has learned a lot about surviving in war-torn Aleppo, but when his apartment building is bombed, his parents decide they can wait it out no more. Mahmoud, his parents, and his two younger siblings join the throngs leaving Syria in search of safety. They encounter danger from many angles—soldiers, swindlers, and the weather. When they are finally able to board a dinghy to Greece, a storm capsizes them. Separated from his father and brother, Mahmoud and his mother struggle to stay afloat while protecting his baby sister. Refugees in a passing boat cannot take more people aboard, but they agree to take the baby in hopes of saving her. Mahmoud and his mother are reunited with his father and brother, but not little Hana. After a demoralizing stay in a refugee camp, the family is relocated to Germany with a host family, Saul and Ruthie. Ruthie, it turns out, is Josef’s sister, the only


member of her family to survive the Holocaust. Refugee is just right for middle school and beyond. The connections between Josef’s, Isabel’s, and Mahmoud’s lives emphasize common refrains in the dreadfully persistent stories of refugees across time and place: loss and hope, courage and resilience, and the continual need for refuge in the world. Those themes and more emerge across the texts addressed in this article. These books help us understand why, build empathy as we witness the how, and call upon our moral imaginations (Johnson, 1994) to consider what we can do to finally change for the better. Some important take-aways include, but are not limited to, the following: ● Displacement is an effect, not a choice. ● Refugees seek only a safe place to live and a way to support themselves and their families. ● Refugee journeys are always difficult, often dangerous. They require great courage. ● It is hard for a refugee to find a welcome and safety in the world. ● Members of marginalized communities in any society are disproportionately at risk. ● Children, especially, are at risk, needing protection for a safe and productive future. ● Hope is a powerful, resilient force, as is love. ● Speaking out and listening to others is an important step in bringing change. ● Education offers hope but is hard to come by. ● All human beings are valuable. ● We can do better. As Muon Thi Van writes in the afterward to Wishes: More refugees are made every day, not only from local violence and persecution, but increasingly from catastrophic natural disasters and climate change effects. It is not always easy to decide whom to help and when. But I think it is easy to open our hearts and to do what we can when we can. Sometimes that means sharing what we don’t need, whether it’s food, clothing, or room. Sometimes that means volunteering as a language tutor, a guide, or a driver. Sometimes that means demonstrating to show support and solidarity, and sometimes that means petitioning to change laws and policies. Sometimes doing what we can just means saying, “Hello.” I wish only for a safer, kinder, fairer, and more beautiful world. I hope you’ll join me in this wish. Together, we can make it come true. If you may be interested in hosting a faculty or community read of books like these at your school or organization, or to share with your students, please send an email to


References Brockell, G. (2021, August 16). The fall of Saigon: As Taliban seizes Kabul, the Vietnam War’s final days remembered. Retrieved from Davies, N. (2016). Retrieved from ( Goddo, K.P. (2021, September 28). Four questions for Eugene Yelchin. Retrieved from Interview Transcript of Carmen Agra Deedy: From Havana, Cuba to Decatur, Georgia. (n.d.). Retrieved from Johnson, M. (1994). The moral imagination. University of Chicago Press. Operation Babylift: 1975 (n.d.). Retrieved from Shire, W. (2009). Home. Retrieved from The lost boys of Sudan (2014, October 3). Updates 2021, December 13). Retrieved from The moral obligation of hope. (2019, November 16). Retrieved from UNHCR (2016, March 16). Refugees and migrants: Frequently asked questions. Retrieved from UNHCR (n.d.). Refugee data finder. Retrieved from Wolf, S. (2003). Interpreting literature with children. Routledge.

Suzii Parsons believes that books truly matter in the lives of young people. She serves as the Jacques Munroe Professor of Reading and Literacy at Oklahoma State University. You can contact her at


Research Summary Linda McElroy Interdisciplinary Ideas: Teaching Language Development during Science Instruction A key component for children in the process of literacy development is the development of language. A recent article in The Reading Teacher reviewed research related to supporting language development in an interdisciplinary fashion by support of children’s use of language during science instruction. This column will review the article, supplementing it with a second article, both from recent issues of International Literacy Association journals, to capture important ideas and resources. The first article, from The Reading Teacher, reviews previous research (46 cited articles) and presents inquiry-based science instruction as a setting for children to explore and learn about the world as they simultaneously receive support for their language development. The second article, from Reading Research Quarterly, adds important ideas about choosing the most effective science-related trade books. The two reviewed articles were “Developing Language Through Science” (Gerde & Wasik, 2022) and “The Durable, Dynamic Nature of Genre and Science: A Purpose-Driven Typology of Science Trade Books” (May et al., 2020). Part One: Language Development as a Foundation for Literacy Development “Developing Language through Science” emphasizes that learning to read is strongly tied to language development. Language skills begin long before children begin formal reading instruction. Continued support in language development will continue to support students’ deep understanding of academic vocabulary, comprehension, and applications of science concepts. Increased emphasis in schools on preparation for literacy and math assessments sometimes limits time available for science instruction. Teaching science and literacy in an interdisciplinary way can be an effective use of time for supporting literacy development, even in upper grades. From this article, some of the supportive ideas for classroom applications include: Promote Language and Science in the Classroom Adult-child conversations are vital. High quality exchanges between teachers and children during free play, science explorations, and book readings are linked to gains in children’s language production and comprehension. These types of conversations involve openended questions, invitations for children to talk more, and meaningful adult feedback to children’s responses. Instead of multiple-choice questions or questions that need one-word answers, open-ended questions are more effective. Teachers might ask, “Talk to me about _____,” “Tell me what you noticed about ___________,” “Describe what happened when________,” or “What do you think might happen when _________?”


Provide Scaffolding and Feedback Teachers need to provide feedback that involves complex, conceptually challenging comments in response. Extending children’s language with responses such as, “Tell me more about what you mean when you say _________,” or “How did you decide to __________,” is much more effective than general comments such as “Good idea” or “Nice work.” Model Scientists’ Language and Thinking When teachers use the language of scientists, they lay a foundation for children’s understanding of the science concepts in disciplinary literacy. Children learn academic language as they explore scientific questions, make claims, consider evidence to support their claims, and use science vocabulary as they engage in scientific explorations. Children can go beyond simple definitions and work toward in-depth understandings of scientific terms such as observation, hypothesis, and evidence. They begin to use the academic language in their own investigations. The authors provided some examples of questions that are effective. Questions to Promote Observation: What do you observe? Describe what you see. What is happening? Tell me what you see. What happened when ___________? What are you doing? What do we know about __________? What changes do you notice? What differences/similarities do you see? What patterns do we see in the properties (shape, size, movement, texture, etc.)? Questions to Promote Investigation: What do we want to know about __________? How could you/we find out the answer? How could you/we find out __________? Why are you doing __________? What do you wonder? Can you explain more about __________? What do you predict will happen when _________? How could we test your idea? Use Wait Time and Listen to Children’s Responses Children need time to think about their responses to open-ended questions. Listen carefully to their responses and modify your feedback. Encourage children to also listen to one another and to expand the conversations. Demonstrate that you value their varied ideas and opinions. Probe with follow-up questions that scaffold children’s learning and their language.


Provide ideas and materials to help with testing a hypothesis and follow with questions to help them think more deeply, consider evidence, and make connections to experiences they have had in and out of school. Incorporate thoughtful conversations (back-and-forth questions, feedback) to support higher-order scientific sensemaking and to expand their language. Part Two: Effective Science Trade Books for Use in Interdisciplinary Lessons Teachers need varied resources to support their science instruction. An article in Reading Research Quarterly (May et al., 2020) described a research study which examined a large collection of science trade books selected for their instructional usefulness in science classrooms. The researchers analyzed their design, genres, scientific discourses, and features. The existing research on scientific trade books has typically oversimplified the categories as simply narrative or expository. These researchers developed a more detailed typology of different types of science trade books. The research study analyzed 400 trade books identified by the National Science Teachers Association on their list of Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12 from 2010-2017. This organization has published similar lists annually since 1973 as a joint venture with the Children’s Book Council, based on their belief quoted on their website that, in conjunction with hands-on exploration, “reading science trade books is the perfect way for students to build literacy skills while learning science content” (National Science Teaching Association [NSTA], 2022). These annual lists, available on the NSTA website, can be helpful as teachers explore books published each year. The research study centered on analyzing how the trade books were organized and how they presented and represented scientific knowledge for readers. The lead researcher read each of the 400 books and kept a researcher notebook focused on how the books were designed, the content, the focal characters, linguistic and graphic features, and sometimes quotations about a book’s approach to science. Other researchers coded the books as nonfiction or fiction, expository or narrative, presence of images (yes or no), types of images (photographic or artist drawn), presence of features such as graphical devices (e.g., diagrams, charts), and navigational aids (e.g., indexes, headings). Each book was then sorted into one of two categories, based on whether it focused on the communication of accepted science knowledge or was designed to allow readers to learn more about how science is generated. In this categorization, the researchers examined the main body (the primary text) of the books and the peritextual elements (e.g., author’s notes, afterword, timeline). They sorted each book according to its primary purpose related to the teaching of science and subdivided the categories into genres. The books used varied language types, text structures, book designs, and types of images. The researchers identified the category of science content, the grade level bands identified for the books, the types of images, and the prevailing text structures used. They identified whether the book included photographs, artist-created illustrations, or a combination.


The researchers found that most of the Outstanding Science Trade Books prioritized one of two functions: 1.

Presenting already identified knowledge The researchers found that many of the Outstanding Science Trade Books presented knowledge that had already been identified. Related to the content, books were subcategorized into genres related to typical content domains, prevailing text structures, and types of science education such as life science or earth science. Books in this category are written by a knowledgeable author who is translating adult knowledge into forms that are understandable to younger audiences. Some of these are described as browsable books, with descriptions in short, titled sections, with large print, text features, and captivating images designed for child engagement. Other types of books include: ● Experiencing a day in the life (animals and ecosystems recounts) ● Expository literature (animals and ecosystems explanation) ● Traditional survey books (animals and ecosystems classification, description, and explanation) ● Resources for scientific inquiry (biological and earth sciences classification, description, and explanation) or for Observing in Nature (suggestions for the reader to notice while observing) ● Refutation Texts (addressing common misconceptions about a scientific topic such as human-caused climate change) ● Science-themed poetry (animals and ecosystems) 2. Teaching the nature of science and science inquiry Books in this category include books that the researchers described as the lived lives of individual scientists, recounts of scientists working together to address a problem, and recounts of individuals and groups working to explain how people develop and change scientific understandings. Examples include: ● Biographies of scientists, the life stories of individual scientists presented as literary, artist-illustrated picture books and traditional and illustrated chapter books ● Fictional accounts of realistic fiction ● Fictional accounts of science fiction ● Fictional accounts of children as scientists, either science fiction or realistic fiction accounts of children solving problems (picture books with narrative language or chapter books with a narrative arc that is typical of fiction) ● Literature of problem solving (recounts of the work of contemporary scientists, told in a narrative style with suspense-building language and photographs) ● Books about history and science (recounts of ways that historical events and science intertwine, recounts of historically significant events, as well as recounts


of the scientific development of a topic over time, some of which were told as a chronologically organized narrative) Summary The two reviewed articles provide support for teachers who are balancing time restraints against the importance of both literacy and science instruction. Language development is a vital scaffold as children learn and elaborate on new understandings in all content areas, including science concepts. The types of interactions and questioning suggested by the researchers for the first article are flexible for application in many types of lessons and experiences for children. Locating appropriate books to use in instruction is an ongoing challenge. Thus, the second article can be of invaluable help as teachers analyze science trade books for varied features and types of texts through the initially reviewed 400 books from 2010 to 2017 lists of Outstanding Science Trade Books on the website of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA, 2022). Updates of lists of newly published Outstanding Science Trade Books are added to the website each year, and these new books can support teachers in planning and implementing lessons. Enjoyable and memorable interdisciplinary literacy/science instruction can support children’s language development, as well as their science knowledge. References Gerde, H. K., & Wasik, B.A. (2022). Developing language through science. The Reading Teacher, 75(5), 535-544. May, L., Crisp, T., Bingham, G.E., Schwartz, R.E., Pickens, M.T., & Woodbridge, K. (2020) The durable, dynamic nature of genre and science: A purpose-driven typology of science trade books. Reading Research Quarterly, 55(3), 399-418. National Science Teaching Association. (2022.). Outstanding science trade books for students K12. Retrieved May 24, 2022, from

Dr. Linda McElroy is a professor at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. She previously taught in Oklahoma schools as a classroom teacher and as a reading specialist.


Tech Talk Shelley Martin-Young

The Importance of Poetry: Making the Tech Connection Poetry! Just saying the word poetry aloud may elicit a wide range of emotions from both students and teachers alike. Take a minute to reflect on the word poetry. Say it aloud, revel in the word. What emotions bubbled to the surface when you thought of the word poetry? Inevitably, when I tell my preservice teachers that we are going to write poetry I hear moans and groans, but by the end of the semester, poetry is one of their favorite genres. We need poetry in our lives. Beginning your school year with poetry helps build community and allows you to learn about your students while they learn about you and each other. Poetry is rhythm and rhyme, and it speaks to the soul. According to Elena Aguilar (2013) a blogger for Edutopia, poetry is “the most kinesthetic of all literature, it’s physical and full-bodied which activates your heart and soul and sometimes bypasses the traps of our minds, and the outcome is that poetry moves us.” Reading poetry builds vocabulary and enhances creativity. Reading poetry aloud builds fluency and listening skills. Poetry is also a great way to explore and play with language: similes, metaphors, rhyme, imagery. You can even use poetry to teach grammar. Below I will introduce you to two of my favorite poetry + technology approaches. Ethical ELA – Choice and Voice Literacy For all things ELA, Ethical ELA (Donovan, 2022) is a must-have resource. Dr. Sarah Donovan, Assistant professor at Oklahoma State University, began this blog in 2015 as a place to share resources and connect with teachers. In this blog, Dr. Donovan shares her thoughts about and resources for assessments and grading practices, reading, writing and poetry. The blog also hosts educators from across the country to share what is on their hearts. Here you can read my blog post about the Tulsa Race Massacre, hear from a survivor, and listen to some authors who have written about the Tulsa Race Massacre. On this blog, Dr. Donovan hosts a monthly Open Write for educators to share their voice and their poetry. The Open Write takes place over a fiveday period. For each of the five days a “host” provides a poetry inspiration, writing tips, and a mentor poem. Teachers are then encouraged to write a poem on the Ethical ELA blog and respond to other authors. Teachers are also encouraged to share the prompts with their students. There are even suggestions on how to respond to each other. In April each year, the site hosts a month-long poetry writing challenge known as #VerseLove. #VerseLove operates the same as the open write, except that there will be inspirations for 30 days instead of just five. Dr. Donovan writes on her blog, “Write because you can. Write because it helps you see your world anew. Write because this will be a place to


experiment, take risks, be brave, be silly, be supportive of all writers all month long. You will feel a renewed connection with humanity” (Donovan, 2022, #VerseLove section). You can even earn continuing education credits from Oklahoma State University Writing Project. Sign up for Open Write here and join the writing community for June’s Open Write June 19-23. You might also enjoy these other poetry blogs for educators: Mrs. Renz’ Class (Renz, 2022), the edublogger (Morris, 2019), Teaching with Heart, Fire, and Poetry (Intrator and Scribner, 2014), and Two Writing Teachers (Shubitz, 2022). Mentor Text to Start Your Year One of my favorite ways to begin the school year with poetry is by using Where I’m From by George Ella Lyon as a mentor text. This poem is a peek into memorable moments from Lyon’s childhood and a terrific way to get to know your students. Educators, activists, psychologists, and others from around the world have joined together to use this poem as a template for their own poems. Start by sharing the original poem with your students. You can listen to George Ella Lyon read her poem. You can learn more about George Ella Lyons by visiting her website for Word Weavers (I love this description). On her website you can learn about Ms. Lyons’ activism (poetry is great for activism and social justice) and discover fabulous resources for teaching poetry. Lyon joined teacher and activist Julie Landsman to create the I Am From Project. This project is designed to bring people together from all over the country to share their stories in an attempt to stamp out hate. There is even a Facebook page created for this project. After sharing the poem with my undergrads at OSU, they created their own Where I’m From poems and then used the app Book Creator to add photos, decorations, and sometimes their voice to share their story. With permission from the students, I am sharing a few of the poems. Click here to read Lisa’s poem, here for Georgia’s poem, here for Sadie’s poem, and here for Nina’s poem.


Other great books to use as mentor texts for poetry include: Gone Fishing by Tamera Wissinger (2015), Shaking Things Up by Susan Hood (2022), When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano (2016), Hip Hop Speaks to Children by Nikki Giovanni (2008), This is Just to Say by Joyce Sidman and Pamela Zagarenski (2014), and Seeds, Bees, Butterflies and More by Carole Gerber (2013). Reading and writing poetry is important for developing language and literacy skills. Adding technology into poetry is just another way that you can get students excited about writing poetry. In this column I have shared only two of many of my favorite poetry techniques. Look for more poetry in future Tech Talk columns. Literature Cited Fogliano, J. (2016). When green becomes tomatoes: Poems for all seasons. Roaring Book Press. Gerber, C. (2013). Seeds, bees, butterflies and more. Henry Holt and Co. Giovanni, N. (2008). Hip Hop speaks to children: A celebration of poetry with a beat. Sourcebooks Explore. Hood, S. (2022). Shaking things up: 14 young women who changed the world. Harper Collins. Lyon, G.E. (1999). Where I’m from. Absey & Co. Sidman, J. & Zagarenski, P. (2014). This is just to say: Poems of apology and forgiveness. Clarion Books. Wissinger, T.W. (2015). Gone fishing: A novel in verse. Clarion Books. Blogs Cited Donovan, S. J. (2022). Ethical ELA. Intrator, S.M. & Scribner, M. (2014). Teaching with Heart, Fire, and Poetry: Where Teachers Share about Their Life & Work Morris, K. (2019). The Edublogger. Renz, H. (2022). Mrs. Renz’ Class: Ideas & Resources for Creative 21 st Century Teachers.


Shubitz, S. (2022). Two Writing Teachers: A Meeting Place for a World of Reflective Writers.

Dr. Shelley Martin-Young is a Teaching Assistant Professor of Elementary Education at Oklahoma State University. Her research interests include hidden history, place-based education, children’s literature, and technology. She can be reached at


Policy and Advocacy Julie Collins Oklahoma Education Legislative, Policy, and Advocacy Updates The second regular session of the 58th Oklahoma State Legislature is just wrapping up from its Spring 2022 session. This column will summarize important education legislation and information about advocating for your views with legislators. Legislation One of the most immediate areas for attention in reading education stems from a previously passed bill, House Bill 2804, authored by Representatives Sanders, Albright, Conley, Townley, Davis, and Hill, and Senator Bice in 2020, This school year, 2022-2023, is the year this legislation begins to require that any child in kindergarten through third grade found not to be meeting grade-level targets in reading following the beginning of the year assessments under the Reading Sufficiency Act be screened for dyslexia. Screening for dyslexia may also be requested by a parent or guardian or certain school personnel. Districts are required to provide annual professional development regarding dyslexia. You should ask about this if your district is not providing you with information to meet these requirements. The Oklahoma State Board of Education was charged with developing policies for the screening and adopting a list of approved dyslexia screening tools to address these components of dyslexia: phonological awareness, advanced phonemic awareness, sound-symbol recognition, alphabet knowledge, decoding skills, encoding skills, rapid naming, and developmental language. Districts will report data regarding the implementation of the screening, as well as the identification of students and interventions provided, annually to the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) beginning in June 2023. Information about the screening instruments to be used beginning this school year can be found on the OSDE Special Education Dyslexia Resources Page. You can find more information about dyslexia, assessing students, and providing intervention for students with dyslexia in Oklahoma on the OSDE Special Education Dyslexia Page. House Bill 2768 authored by Representatives Randleman and Mize and Senator Standridge during this 2022 session adds dysgraphia to the Oklahoma Dyslexia Handbook, which was developed and made available to schools in 2019. Beginning January 1, 2024, this resource will be known as the dyslexia and dysgraphia handbook. The review committee designated for this addition to the handbook will study how to effectively identify students who have dysgraphia through possible reading and broad written language scores; study the responseto-intervention (RTI) process, as well as other effective research-based approaches in writing, reading, and literacy to identify the appropriate measures for assisting students with dysgraphia; and make recommendations for appropriate resources and interventions for students with reading or writing difficulties, including dysgraphia and broad written language disorder, in order to make schools aware of the significance of dysgraphia. You can find the full text of this bill here.


House Bill 3092, relating to school libraries, was authored by Representatives Hilbert and Phillips and Senators Leewright and Stanley. This bill requires school library media programs to reflect community standards when selecting age-appropriate materials. The bill was signed into law by Governor Stitt on April 29th. The complete text of this bill can be found here. Another bill regarding school library programs was considered this year. House Bill 1142, authored by Senators Standridge, Newhouse, and Allen, was heard in the Senate, and received a great deal of press coverage. This bill contained specific criteria for books to be in violation of being held in public school inventory and outlined a process for removal of any book that may violate the material description. House Bill 3564 authored by Representatives McBride, Fugate, Baker, Phillips, Nollan, Conley, Waldron, Stark, and Provenzano and Senators Pemberton and Stephens creates the Oklahoma Future Teacher Scholarship and Employment Incentive Program. Governor Stitt signed this legislation into law on May 26th. You can find the full text of this bill here. This program will be administered by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE). OSRHE is charged with creating a committee of educators, teacher education faculty from participating institutions, representatives of public schools, and representatives of the Oklahoma State Department of Education to make recommendations to the OSRHE, that is charged with creating rules and procedures for students to be able to receive the funding. All funding is contingent on availability of funds. While this program is for students who are still in Oklahoma high schools, this bill is to help address the teacher shortage in our state by assisting future teachers with their education and incentivizing them to stay and teach in Oklahoma. This program essentially has two parts, with the second part being contingent on participating and completing the first portion. A participant must be a graduate of an Oklahoma high school and meet other requirements delineated in the law. The first part of the program is a scholarship to assist students seeking to complete an undergraduate teacher education preparation degree at an Oklahoma public university or an accredited private university, as defined in the legislation. This scholarship will consist of $1,000 for up to three years for fulltime students who have fewer than 90 hours of study completed, and $2,500 for the final year of study for students with 90 or more hours of study completed, with the final year including student teaching. The total scholarship funds available during the undergraduate program is $5,500. The second part of the program is for students who have completed the scholarship portion during the undergraduate degree. Prior to entering the scholarship program, the candidate must have agreed to teach a minimum of 5 consecutive years in an Oklahoma public school, prekindergarten through twelfth grade. The OSRHE shall create an employment incentive program which will, as funds are available, provide incentive payments following the completion of each school year of $4,000 for up to 5 consecutive years, for a total incentive payment for $20,000.


Advocacy As you encounter issues in the profession that you feel could be addressed through legislation, I encourage you to reach out to your representative and senator. Many legislators report that pieces of legislation are often a result of contact from a constituent. You can find the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate from links on this site. In addition to your legislators, you are welcome to contact the chairs and the members of the committees hearing legislation you are interested in during the next session. You can find committee lists from the same link. Your legislators should welcome your calls and emails. Please empower yourself to share your thoughts with them about proposed or new legislation. You would be surprised to learn how few citizens contact them! Wishing you a safe and healthy summer break with time to relax and refresh before beginning the next school year!

Dr. Julie Collins enjoyed all of her literacy experiences in Oklahoma City, Norman, and Putnam City Public Schools and at the OSDE, before becoming a professor at the University of Central Oklahoma. She can be contacted at


Authors are requested to submit only unpublished articles not under review by any other publication. A manuscript should be typed, double spaced, not right justified, not hyphenated, and should follow APA, 7th Edition guidelines (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association). Tables and graphs should be used only when clarification is needed. Include a cover page giving the article title, professional affiliation, complete address, e-mail and phone number of the author(s). Special sections have specific requirements that are described below. The editors reserve the right to revise and/or edit all copies.

The Oklahoma Reader welcomes manuscripts that support the growth and development of classroom teachers, reading specialists, and other literacy professionals throughout their careers. Manuscripts should successfully translate literacy research into practice through concrete strategies and techniques. Considering that the main audience of The Oklahoma Reader consists of PreK-12 teachers, manuscripts that offer practical ideas for successful literacy instruction are encouraged and prioritized. Manuscripts should be limited to 4000 words including tables, figures, and reference(s). Submit the manuscript electronically as a Word document attached to an email message addressed to Manuscripts will be reviewed anonymously by three members of The Oklahoma Reader Editorial Advisory Board. Manuscripts are evaluated on the basis of clarity, interest, organization, content, and style. If accepted, revisions may be requested. Manuscripts must be original work which has not been previously published nor is undergoing simultaneous review in another journal.



AUTHORS for The Oklahoma Reader

Submission deadline for Fall 2022 issue: August 26, 2022

The Oklahoma Reader also seeks submissions dealing with instructional practices (teacher-to-teacher), classroom research (teacher research), and book reviews recommending texts that can be useful for individual or group professional development. Teacher-to-teacher and teacher research submissions are described in detail below. All submissions should be submitted electronically as a Word document attached to an email message addressed to

Teacher to Teacher: Submit descriptions of teaching activities that have helped students learn an essential literacy skill, concept, strategy, or attitude. Submissions should be no longer than 1500 words and align with the following format: Title: (if adapting from another source, cite reference and provide a bibliography) Purpose of Activity, including the literacy skill, concept, strategy, or attitude the students will learn Description of activity with examples, questions, responses. Please provide enough detail so someone can implement the activity. How activity was evaluated to know if purpose was achieved 85

Guidelines for Authors Continued Teacher Research: Submit manuscripts that describe research or inquiry conducted in classrooms. Submissions should be 1000-2000 words and align with the following format: Description of the question or issue guiding the research/inquiry, including a short review of pertinent literature. Description of who participated in the study, what the sources of data were, how the data were gathered and examined. Description of the findings and conclusion from the research/inquiry. Title, author, publisher of the resource. Short description of the resource. Critical review of the resource including strengths and weaknesses. Short discussion of how the resource might be useful to a teacher.

Membership in the Oklahoma Literacy Association (OKLA) gives all persons interested in literacy education the opportunity to develop and support literacy initiatives and activities at the local, state, national, and international levels. Opportunities to participate in activities that support quality professional development, partnerships with other agencies advocating for literacy, research, as well as the promotion of quality instruction, materials, and policies are all extended and enriched through membership in OKLA. We invite you to become a member of the Oklahoma Literacy Association if you are not yet a member! Membership information can be found here. 86

Oklahoma Literacy Association Leadership Conference






Assistant Editors

Maribeth Nottingham Barbara J. McClanahan Susan Morrison

Southeastern Oklahoma State University Southeastern Oklahoma State University Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Cindy A. McClanahan

Georgia Institute of Technology Oklahoma State University

Shelley Martin-Young Editorial Review Board

Julie Collins

Mollie Kasper Chaehyun Lee Linda McElroy Becky Morris Claudia Otto Lynn Schroeder Donita Shaw Jill Tussey Amanda Wilson Jodi Wolf

University of Central Oklahoma Phillips Elementary, Kaufman (TX) ISD Southeastern Oklahoma State University University of Sciences & Arts of Oklahoma Bethany Public Schools Oklahoma State University Sequoyah Public Schools Oklahoma State University Buena Vista University - Iowa Oral Roberts University Edmond Public Schools

Oklahoma Literacy Association Officers Chair Chair Elect Secretary Treasurer Past Chair ILA Coordinator


Rebecca Marie Farley Eileen Richardson

Oklahoma Baptist University Cameron University at Rogers State

Stacey Goodwin

Bartlesville Public Schools

Liz Willner

Oklahoma City University

Sylvia Hurst

University of Central Oklahoma

Linda McElroy

Univ. of Science & Arts of Oklahoma