Immersion in fiction narratives like Alan Gratz’s (2017) Refugee can help students recognize and acknowledge our common humanity when discussed in a dialogic classroom using a critical literacy pedagogy. Following the literature on using novel discussions to help students understand pressing societal issues (e.g., Boas, 2012; Hsieh, 2012; Thein et al., 2011) and guided by critical multicultural analysis (Botelho & Rudman, 2009), a dialogic (Bakhtin, 1981) and critical pedagogy (Freire, 1970) was used to lead a small group of sixthgrade students in biweekly discussions of Refugee. Prior to each of 10 sessions, students wrote dialogue journal entries in response to prompts designed to elicit critical thinking about the events depicted in the novel, which illustrates harrowing ordeals endured by fictional families facing persecution during the Holocaust, in Castro’s Cuba, and in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. A thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) of students’ writing and researcher field notes revealed students’ inherent compassion toward refugees and limited background knowledge of refugees’ circumstances. Rich dialogic conversations resulted in demonstrations of empathy and newfound critical knowledge about the worldwide refugee crisis.
Kuehl, R. (2021). “We Treat Them Like Animals in a Cage”: A Dialogic Exploration of Refugee. Reading Horizons: A Journal of Literacy and Language Arts, 60 (3). Retrieved from https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/reading_horizons/vol60/iss3/2