In this paper, the authors – a preservice teacher (PST) and a teacher educator – consider how teacher education might better prepare PSTs to use picture books to facilitate difficult conversations in elementary classrooms. They share missed opportunities from their own experiences in a fourth-grade fieldwork classroom and in a graduate-level elementary literacy methods course where they felt unprepared to respond to students’ comments about “controversial” topics. They reimagine how these experiences might have been transformed to be more educative for PSTs, first by considering how they could have responded more thoughtfully in the moment and then by thinking about how they could have built upon these particular moments to deepen PST learning. Lastly, authors share ideas for how current assignments in a literacy methods course could be revised to more intentionally support PSTs to use picture books to engage with content that may be difficult to address with elementary learners.

Author Biography

Kathryn Struthers Ahmed

Kathryn Struthers Ahmed, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Childhood Literacy Education at Hunter College, CUNY. Her research focuses on preparing elementary teachers to teach literacy in culturally responsive ways to students from minoritized groups. She is particularly interested in how teacher education, teacher educators, and education policy shape the development of preservice teachers’ literacy instruction as they prepare to work in urban, high-poverty schools. Formerly, she taught first and fourth grades in the Bronx, New York.

Nida Ali

Nida Ali a former graduate of the Hunter College School of Education. She received her degree and certification in Childhood Education. Currently, she is a high school social studies teacher for AP and Regents preparatory classes. Her goal is to create curricula that is culturally relevant and multicultural, in order to create a classroom that is truly inclusive. She attempts for her students to learn and enjoy history while making connections to the society and current affairs they reside in.



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