Teaching Social Justice Through Young Adult Literature Journal Article Review

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Glasgow, Jacqueline N. Teaching Social Justice Through Young Adult Literature.  English Journal 90.6 July 2001. 54-61. Web.  29, August  2012.

Jacqueline Glasgow has written an excellent article about teaching children how to deal with social justice/injustice through young adult literature.  She proposes that teachers of Jr. High and High School select readings that bring social issues like racism, sexism, agism, ethnocentrism, homophobia, xenophobia, genocidal politics, and militarism into the forefront.  These topics have been deemed appropriate for students in this age range by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Glasgow provides a list of recommended activities to help young adults evaluate and consider these social issues.  Her recommendations include having students discuss the specific events that occurred in their reading that caused friction between different social groups.  She recommended the children write or draw something that shows there feelings about the conflict between the social groups. She also had children create original metaphors to express their thoughts on the issues.

There are many ways we can address social issues through teaching English and using young adult literature.  Glasgow has good recommendations, but there are many ways to personalize lesson plans to your specific class and social issues they will be confronted with.  For example, children born in or after 1997 are expected to be the first generation of children in the United States to have minorities outnumbers whites.  This is sure to cause social friction as minorities will continue to gain more influence over laws, and media.  Minority cultures will be ever more integrated and assimilated with American culture.  Young adult literature can be used to show how people of different cultures clash and hopefully learn to embrace the best of both cultures.

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