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Using Literature to Make Expansive Genders Visible for Pre-adolescent Readers

Abstract

This article examines reader development as a key factor in understanding the pathways through which readers connect to gender expansive books, and relates those concepts to the corpus of books available for elementary level readers. The article provides evidence for the importance of attending to both book quantity and quality, as well as thoughtfully scaffolding the use of gender inclusive texts in rich classroom contexts, bringing new lenses of connections and disconnections, queering, and other ways of reading against the grain to reconsider mainstream titles. A qualitative study of gender expansive elementary school students engaging in a book group discussion using literature with gender expansive characters is presented. The study was aimed at understanding how children interact with books inclusive of gender diversity and how the visibility of gender creative and transgender characters is essential for reader empowerment, self-development, and acceptance of others.

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Notes

  1. All names for individuals in the study are pseudonyms.

  2. While Nevada was using he/him/his pronouns at the time of the book group, by the time of the interview two months later, Nevada had transitioned to she/her/hers pronouns. To recognize this transition without causing excessive confusion, she/her/hers pronouns will be used when referring to the interview, and pronouns marked with asterisks will be used when referring to her participation in the book group and her earlier childhood (she*/her*/hers*).

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Correspondence to Julie C. Luecke.

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Julie C. Luecke is an Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Education at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin. Her work is grounded in building support structures for gender expansive students and their peers through educational policy and practice, including the use of children's and young adult literature.

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Luecke, J.C. Using Literature to Make Expansive Genders Visible for Pre-adolescent Readers. Child Lit Educ (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10583-021-09447-8

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Keywords

  • LGBTQ + literature
  • Children’s literature
  • Elementary schools
  • Gender
  • Gender identity
  • Transgender