Genre-Based Strategies To Promote Critical Literacy in Grades 4-8

Libraries Unlimited. Oct. 2019. 150p. pap. $50. ISBN 9781440863165.
Hartsfield and Kimmel tackle critical literacy, a framework for examining texts to see hidden bias and other embedded messages related to race, gender, and other identities. The authors discuss how works of historical fiction can be paired to shed light on different perspectives on slavery, how to closely examine a text’s word choice, and more. They ground the book, aimed at librarians who work with fourth through eighth graders, heavily in critical literacy theory, which can feel daunting. Fortunately, Hartsfield and Kimmel provide useful case studies to make the theory more concrete. The book covers the major middle grade genres (informational books, narrative nonfiction and biographies, historical fiction, contemporary realistic fiction, fantasy, picture books, and graphic novels). Educators will appreciate annotated bibliographies (with high-quality, recent suggestions) and detailed, standards-based lesson plans, with modifications and extensions, as well as worksheets and rubrics; however, the authors do not refer to the AASL Standards for School Libraries. Also, many of the objectives are not measurable.
VERDICT Librarians who want to learn more about critical literacy theory and genre study will appreciate this work, though it is scholarly, so expect to use it more as a reference.

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