Conveying a Stance of Religious Pluralism in Children’s Literature
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Religious discrimination is a global concern, as social dissonance and devastating violence result from religious intolerance. In order to develop socially competent, global citizens and create a peaceful society, religious diversity must be explored in public school classrooms; yet it remains a controversial and seldom addressed topic. Children’s literature that conveys religious pluralism can help teachers start this crucial conversation. A content analysis of 14 religiously pluralistic texts was conducted to understand how children’s authors enact a pluralistic stance. Findings indicate that fiction authors employ five main archetypes to express messages of religious pluralism: the questioner, one truth believer, counterpoint character, atheist, and coach. Both fiction and nonfiction authors confront issues of religiously disguised violence, provide educational information about religious beliefs and practices, emphasize commonalities between religions, maintain an assertive and respectful voice when describing religious beliefs, and highlight the existence of multiple spiritual paths. Implications of these findings for classroom practice are discussed.