Religious Diversity and Children's Literature

Connie R. Green
Sandra Brenneman Oldendorf, Appalachian State University

A volume in the series: International Social Studies Forum: The Series. Editor(s): Leah Davis, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. Lara Willox, University of West Georgia.

Published 2011

This book is an invaluable resource for enabling teachers, religious educators, and families to learn about religious diversity themselves and to teach children about both their own religion as well as the beliefs of others. The traditions featured include indigenous beliefs throughout the world, Native American spirituality, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity (Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Protestantism), Islam, Sikhism, and other beliefs such as Bahá'í, Unitarian Universalism, Humanism, and Atheism. Each chapter highlights a specific religion or spiritual tradition with a brief discussion about major beliefs, misconceptions, sacred texts, and holy days or celebrations. This summary of each tradition is followed by extensive annotated recommendations for children’s and adolescent literature as well as suggested teaching strategies. The recommended literature includes informational books, traditional religious stories, and fiction with religious themes. Teachers, religious educators, and family members will find the literature from these genres to be invaluable tools for bridging the religious experience of the child with that of the global society in which they live.

1. Why Learn About Religious and Spiritual Traditions? 2. Connecting World Religions and Children’s Literature. 3. Indigenous Belief Systems. 4. Native American Spirituality. 5. Hinduism. 6. Judaism. 7. Buddhism. 8. Christianity: Orthodoxy and Catholicism. 9. Christianity: Protestantism. 10. Islam. 11. Sikhism. 12. Free Thinkers and Other Belief Systems.

"Religious Diversity and Children’s Literature is an outstanding resource for teachers and families as they educate children about the religious diversity of our country and the world. Until now, public teachers have had few resources for introducing young students to religious and spiritual traditions in ways that are educationally sound and constitutionally permissible. This book fills that gap with fair and accurate discussions of a wide variety of religions and beliefs, accompanied by an annotated guide to the best children’s literature available for teaching about those religions and beliefs in the classroom. At a time when learning about religion is vitally important for building understanding across differences at home and abroad, I hope that every elementary and middle school teacher will get a copy of this book—and use it often." Charles C. Haynes Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum

"Religious Diversity and Children’s Literature takes one of the most important and controversial topics of today—religious diversity—and seeks to make it accessible through one of our most popular media—children’s literature. In our increasingly multifaith and multifaceted society, an understanding of how others view and understand the world is of paramount importance to adults and children alike. This book comprehensively addresses the need for teaching resources on this important topic. Each religion or belief system is first explored through personal experience, history, practice, sacred texts and so on. This is then followed by a list of literary sources, both fiction and non-fiction. Facts are important; stories possibly even more so, since they lie at the heart of many religious traditions and are a wonderful and memorable way of drawing children into the subject. Religious Diversity and Children’s Literature takes great strides toward increased understanding which, I believe, is vital in our world today and for the future." Anita Ganeri

> The authors featured on the July 9, 2012 "Religion for Life" radio broadcast on WETS - an NPR affiliate at East Tennessee State University