Volume VI, Issue 2
Compassion and Action: Reading and Writing through a Social Justice Lens
Social justice has become a central theme in educational research and practice. Proponents of social justice education challenge educators to recognize, question, and reflect on systems that perpetuate inequity on the basis of gender, social class, ability, sexual identity, race, religion and politics. Of equal importance are questions related to how educators respond to this knowledge to provide each member of the educational community with the opportunity to address inequity through explorations of individual identity and cultural and social intersectionality in order to participate fully in a democratic society. Readers of WOW Stories understand the critical importance of this work, and actively pursue ways to enact curricular engagements that address the challenge of disrupting hegemony and fostering a welcoming, humanizing, and intellectual learning environment. Similarly, readers of WOW Stories recognize that global children’s and adolescent literature holds unlimited promise for realizing the goals of social justice education.
This issue of WOW Stories presents readers with four examples of how educators across a variety of teaching contexts addressed issues of social justice through their teaching practice. The issue opens with an interview with a literacy education pioneer and long-time supporter of Worlds of Words, Mary Wong. Heidi Bacon’s interview with this notable educator takes readers through Mary Wong’s journey and professional career as a special educator, librarian, and philanthropist, driven by a vision of social justice grounded in access to literacy for all. Additionally, this issue features three examples of teachers and teacher educators enacting their visions of social justice education through engagements with children’s literature. University educator Ted Kesler and classroom teachers Meaghan Reilly and Esther Eng-Tsang describe a collaboration within a 2nd and 3rd grade blended classroom at a school that serves an urban linguistically diverse student population in an article on translanguaging with picturebooks. They explore how to enact “pedagogy that embraces pluralism, that explores, honors, extends, and, perhaps problematizes our students’ heritage and community practices.” Chuck Jurich, in an article on reading and writing critically through alternative texts, presents readers with a description of how he promotes reflection on social justice issues with preservice teachers. Chuck utilizes an altered text engagement that, “interrogates multiple viewpoints and examines the social and political issues in texts and using diverse and unconventional literacy practices such as remix, convergence, intertextuality, and multimodal representations, the practice encourages a highly critical stance to reading, writing, and children’s literature.” Lastly, Tami Morton and Alexandra Babino portray their experience using The 57 Bus with preservice teachers, confronting the challenge of helping future teachers grapple with children’s literature that deals with difficult themes and the possibilities for their future teaching practice.
The articles in this issue encourage readers to reflect on their own visions of social justice through the fresh perspectives on theory and practice presented in these articles and reinforce the shared vision of the Worlds of Words community to promote equity and democracy through building bridges across global cultures through children’s and adolescent literature.
Tracy Smiles and Mary Fahrenbruck, Editors