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ERIC Number: EJ1041715
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1056-0300
Getting the Story Right: Developing Critical Analysis Skills through Children's Literature
Ackerman, Ann T.; Howson, Patricia H.; Mulrey, Betty C.
Social Studies and the Young Learner, v26 n1 p22-28 Sep-Oct 2013
Teaching social studies using literature requires the teacher to know social studies content and determine the accuracy of the material. Is a narrative authentic? In other words, does it accurately depict the time and place in which a story is set? Are there omissions, stereotypes, or simplifications that could distort the reader's understanding? Of course, every author brings his or her values and perspectives to a story. Few narratives are completely accurate, nor can an author take into account every relevant perspective. But teachers can recognize myths and exaggerations in order to frame lessons and better use the literature. Moreover teachers have the obligation to research and maintain the academic authenticity of social studies content, and to assist students in developing strong inquiry skills as they read literature. Herein, the authors provide handouts to assist teachers and students in analyzing and assessing the historical accuracy of literature. Handouts 1 and 2 (included in this article) provide open cells for students to complete. The authors provided examples of how the handouts might be filled out using the book "January's Sparrow" written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco. Handout 2 is the heart of the activity. Students work collaboratively to fill one column with excerpts from the work of children's literature (picture or chapter book). Students fill the adjacent column with information verifying (or not) the excerpts that they have just listed, and they cite the nonfiction sources of that information. Groups of students are assigned different categories to research (such as the story's depiction of women, men, children, place, details of life, and significant events). Students use any nonfiction sources listed in the book itself or provided by their teacher or librarian. These sources may lead to other sources that will aid students in the verification process. Students then share their findings with their fellow classmates and, ultimately, assess the accuracy and usefulness of the entire book.
National Council for the Social Studies. 8555 Sixteenth Street #500, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Tel: 800-683-0812; Tel: 301-588-1800; Fax: 301-588-2049; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers; Students
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A