Cultivating Critical Race Theory Awareness with Secondary Pre-Service Teachers Through Examination of Black Lives Matter-Themed Literature

I am pleased to share my article and contribution to the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, entitled "Cultivating Critical Race Theory Awareness with Secondary Pre-Service Teachers through Examination of Black Lives Matter Themed Literature". The article is based on a study that reflects my endeavor of preparing secondary English certification students who were enrolled in a required library science course. I am excited about this study, as it is situated in the educational landscape in middle schools across the nation that are negotiating the demand of CRT and youth-led activism, against the grain of the push to censor titles in libraries and schools that portray the realities of system racism, condition of racial profiling against unarmed Black males and broken criminal justice system in society. Titles spanned across contemporary realistic fiction, graphic novels, and picture books, and included Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, Nic Stone’s Dear Martin, John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell’s The March graphic novel series, and Eve Bunting’s Smoky Night.

Dear Martin.        The Hate U Give.    March.    Smoky Night

The experiences occurred in a secondary English program transitioning from the common convention of didactic analysis of classic canonical literature to critically examining controversial literature that reflects societal conditions. This pedagogical shift raises awareness of youth-led activism in society. The Literature for Young People Course was conducted online–I documented PST perspectives through discussion boards, Zoom meetings, semi-structured interviews, and PST evaluations of literature selections.  Findings reflect Secondary PSTs who were open to incorporating BLM themed titles in their practice to reflect the lived experiences of their future students, to educate students who are cultural outsiders, and to promote youth-led activism.  Furthermore, the students conceptualized discussion topics that support CRT and how they would mitigate pushback and book bans.  As secondary English programs are under revision, I invite CLE readers to read this article and explore how a young adult literature course contributed to programmatic changes, in support of cultivating CRT awareness and implementation.