Engaging ideas, transforming minds
Engaging ideas, transforming minds
Canadian Scholars’ Press
224 pages
6.75 x 9.75 inches
August 2017
Print ISBN: 9781551309736
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How can Canadian educators begin to instill cultural sensitivity and social awareness in elementary and secondary school students? This vital text attempts to answer that question by bringing together literacy scholars and practicing teachers in a unique cross-Canadian exploration of children’s literature and social justice. Through reflection on the experience of teaching with various Canadian texts including picture books, novels, and graphic novels, the contributors behind Challenging Stories create a “pedagogy of discomfort” that will encourage both educators and their students to develop critical literacy skills.

The compelling contributions to this collection highlight the complexities of teaching with texts that address issues of discrimination, historical marginalization, colonialism, racial and gender intolerance, sexual orientation, language, and cultural diversity. The authors offer first-hand insight into the possibilities and challenges of implementing curricular and pedagogical changes to promote equity and social justice in the classroom. Featuring the stories of participating teachers and an annotated bibliography of children’s literature, this invaluable resource will prove to be essential reading for current and future students in undergraduate education programs across Canada.


Table of Contents

Dr. Joyce Bainbridge


SECTION ONE: Unsettling Our Sense of Place through Reading Canadian Literature

Chapter 1: Aren’t We All the Same? The Challenges of Choosing Multicultural Literature in Historically Monocultural Communities
Geraldine Balzer

Chapter 2: “I Wouldn’t Stand Too Close to This Story If I Were You . . .”: Vancouver Island Teachers Explore Social Justice Issues
Angela Ward, with Allison Balabuch, Lauren Frodsham, Dale Jarvis, Tanya Larkin, Carol Nahachewsky, Katherine O’Connor, Devon Stokes-Bennett, and Alison Preece

SECTION TWO: Encounters between Readers and Challenging Texts

Chapter 3: Multimodal Perspectives on Teaching Canadian Literature for Social Justice
Ingrid Johnston, Karen Jacobsen, and Bill Howe

Chapter 4: Challenges for Teachers and Schools: Creating Spaces for LGBTQ Literature in Schools
Anne Burke and Aedon Young

Chapter 5: The Limits of “Understanding”: Teaching Residential School Stories in the Classroom
Amarou Yoder and Teresa Strong-Wilson

SECTION THREE: Opening Minds: Pedagogies for Social Justice

Chapter 6: A Plurality of Voices for Social Justice: Implementing Culturally Responsive Pedagogies in a Grade 6 Classroom
Anne Burke, Theresa Powell, Shawnee Hardware, and Laura Butland

Chapter 7: Opening Doors, Opening Minds: The Role of the Inquiry Group in Teaching for Social Justice
Lynne Wiltse and Shelby LaFramboise-Helgeson

Ingrid Johnston

Bibliography of Children’s Literature
Author Biographies


“This collection offers a long overdue and nuanced exploration of how educators might tackle issues of injustice and inequity that invariably entail discomfort and pedagogical challenges. The courageous contributors to this volume offer specific and innovative ways to engage in some important but difficult conversations in the classroom, and I highly recommend it to any educator with a passion for social justice.”
—  Darren E. Lund, PhD, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary

“The quality of writing, the depth of content, and the precise articulation of theoretical connections between children’s literature and the teaching of social justice make this an outstanding contribution to the current collection of books on this subject. It will be on my bookshelf and my required reading lists.”
—  Kathryn Shoemaker, PhD, Language and Literacy Education and the iSchool, University of British Columbia

“This book offers insight into how the study of multicultural, postcolonial literature can provoke teachers and students to question their deeply held beliefs and assumptions, and to work towards gaining a deep understanding of structural inequalities and social injustices.… Teachers and teacher educators will be interested in the inquiry group model at the center of the research and the rich resource of Canadian literature the book provides.”
—  Susan Tilley, PhD, Faculty of Education, Brock University

Student Resources

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