Teaching hard topics in the classroom can sometimes be challenging. However, discussing critical consciousness is essential for gifted adolescents to understand the world around them. By developing critical awareness in adolescence, students will later apply it to their academic, professional, personal, and institutional lives.
Paulo Freire defines critical consciousness as the ability to intervene in reality to change it. As teachers, our goal is to engage students in reflection about the inequalities in society. An effective way to do this is through children’s literature.
There are a growing number of children’s books published each year addressing critical consciousness. I have included links from a public library with children’s literature lists addressing diverse topics to get you started. I have also shared 3 lesson plans I created for various age groups completing multiple activities.
Finally, use the social media hashtag #smallstep_sbiggain and #BuildingCriticalConsciousness to share other resources to be used in the classroom!
|Ages and Description||Link|
|9-12 Stand Up, Speak Out||Stand Up, Speak Out (thelibrary.org)|
|9-12 Celebrating Asian American Voices||Celebrating Asian American Voices (thelibrary.org)|
|6-8 Unity, Kindness, and Peace||Unity. Kindness. Peace. (thelibrary.org)|
|3-5 Asian-American Stories||Asian American Stories (thelibrary.org)|
|3-5 Celebrate Our Differences||Celebrate Our Differences! (thelibrary.org)|
|King and the Dragonflies||This lesson plan uses the young adult novel King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender, written for middle school grades, to guide students and teachers into thinking about critical consciousness by examining different character’s perspectives. The goal of the lesson is to bring critical and social awareness discussions into the classroom.|
|Critical Consciousness through Picture Books||This lesson plan uses pictures books to engage young students to examine areas where differences might be present—the teacher first models thinking aloud using the picture book Amira’s Picture Day by Reem Faruqi. The students will use the strategy, logographics, to create picture flags to identify their thinking. Logographics are visual symbols to serve as signposts to alert the reader to essential aspects of the text. In this lesson, the critical elements are examples of critical consciousness or areas of differences.|
|Tar Beach||This lesson plan uses pictures books to engage young students to examine areas where differences might be present—the teacher first models thinking aloud using the picture book Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold and examining other work by the same artist. Students learn about the artist’s history to examine how current events influences art and literature. The lesson will be explored through an arts integration lens.|