Reading for Social Justice

Ana Contreras
Julia Delacroix

Reading For Social Justice: A Guide for Families and Educators is designed to support a group of caretakers: parents, guardians, teachers, librarians and others as they plan and lead an intergenerational social justice reading group. Along with models and resources, you’ll find practical recommendations for establishing a framework, inviting student input and organizing a series of meetings during which children and adults in your community can read, talk, teach and learn together. 

We all share the important task of helping children develop the skills they need to thrive in a diverse democracy. These skills include understanding how to speak and listen to one another, to share and hear stories and ideas, and to recognize the value in our differing experiences. The true spirit of this work also requires that we learn as well, listening to children’s stories and learning about the world as they observe and live it. 

One way to do this effectively is to meet and explore the ways we differ and what we have in common. These interactions reinforce—for all involved—how to honor and share our identities, understand and celebrate our diversity, recognize injustice and act together to address it. 

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What to Expect From This Guide

This guide introduces the process and resources you’ll need to build your social justice reading group. 

Part I will help you gather community members to create the framework for your reading group. “Before You Begin” walks you through forming a planning committee and outlines the work this committee will need to do to prepare for your first community meetings. “Getting Started” provides the information and activities you’ll use during your first community meetings. It offers step-by-step guidance for selecting a structure, establishing goals and choosing topics, texts and activities for your reading group. 

Because each community is different, you’ll be prompted to “pause and plan” throughout, ensuring that your framework reflects your community, your needs as families and educators, and the interests of the children involved.

In Part II, you’ll find “spotlights,” brief profiles of reading groups in which conversations about social justice are happening around the United States. The spotlights illustrate the wide range of possibilities for structuring and leading your reading group.

In Part III, you’ll find a planning workbook with resources, activities and graphic organizers that you and your team can complete together as you build the framework for your reading group.

The appendices include guidance for educators who want to lay the groundwork for these groups, as well as a bibliography and an evaluation we’ll use to improve the next edition of this guide.

The first step toward social justice is for communities to come together. Thank you for committing to share stories and discussions with the children in your life. 

A Note to Educators 

Before you begin this collaborative project, there are a few steps you’ll need to take on your own. Please see “Laying the Groundwork for Reading Groups,” located in the appendix, before you move on.

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