Teaching Empathy: Exploring Multiple Perspectives to Address Islamophobia Through Children's Literature

Teaching Empathy: Exploring Multiple Perspectives to Address Islamophobia Through Children's Literature

First published: 30 September 2018
 


Abstract

Children's literature text sets can be powerful tools for teaching students about diversity and literacy, engaging students in authentic purposes for literacy practices while exploring complex issues such as Islamophobia. The authors discuss how an intermediate public school teacher integrated a children's literature text set project exploring Muslim characters and communities to foster students' critical thinking, deepen their comprehension, and develop their empathy. Discussion of the texts and multimodal responses inspired students to engage in further inquiry, reflect on stereotypes, and implement a social action project: a pen pal exchange with students in Bangladesh, a Muslim country. This unit provided a safe space for students to explore a complex issue while developing critical literacy skills. As students better understand and learn to empathize with diverse others through text, they realize that people share more similarities than differences, decreasing the potential for Islamophobia in classrooms and society.


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