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The use of critical literacy with children’s books that focus on social issues and disrupt the status quo can be a powerful way to create spaces for conversations with students about social justice and empowerment. Teacher candidates in a semester long children’s literature course were asked to respond to a range of children’s texts that dealt with many social issues and disrupted the commonplace. Despite an explicit emphasis on critical literacy and social justice, the candidates were very resistant to using many of the texts in their own future classrooms. They had strong emotional reactions that prevented them from consideration of how the texts could foster opportunities for students to uncover power relations in texts or to discuss ways that texts either maintain or disrupt the status quo. Data from three picture books that were cited the most frequently are shared in this paper, as well as a discussion on the implications for teacher educators who work with teacher candidates in the area of children’s literature.