Children’s literature is a powerful tool that helps shape young children’s understandings of themselves and the world. As such, children’s literature can help young children develop deeper and more nuanced understandings about gender, gender identity, and gender expression. This article shares how teacher Kerry Elson planned and implemented a curriculum with first-grade students that focused on gender identity and expression. In this curriculum, she carefully selected children’s literature to explore gender identity and expression with young children.

Author Biography

Kerry Elson

Kerry Elson teaches kindergarten and first grade in a loop at Central Park East 2, a public elementary and middle school in East Harlem, New York. She has contributed articles to Rethinking Schools and Edutopia and has presented at the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention as well as Bank Street’s Teaching Kindergarten Conference. She is a graduate of Bank Street’s early childhood and childhood general education program.

Kindel Nash

Kindel Turner Nash is an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Her scholarship and teaching focus on critical issues in early literacy learning–particularly how issues of race, language, and culture interface with children’s school experiences. Her most recent edited book, Toward Culturally Sustaining Teaching, was published by NCTE/Routledge.



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