As I sat in front of the computer in my home office lamenting the lack of internet access, my son said, ‘Sounds like a first-world problem to me, Mom.’ In that moment, I was snapped from my egocentric perspective into an immediate and humble consciousness that viewed the situation from a different perspective. Usually – 98 per cent of the time – I have the internet at my fingertips for no other reason than my geographic and economic privilege. My wise teenager reminded me that, for others, both in my own country and beyond its borders, my problem was actually not a problem at all.
We all live in our own worlds. We can easily forget the humanity around us and the glaring difference of our reality to that of others. Broadening our consciousness to see past our ‘first-world problems’ moves beyond mere gratitude and fosters compassion for those around us. In this way, we can expand our capacity for acceptance, altruism and empathy. In a world where borders are becoming invisible and globalization is the current paradigm, considering the perspective of others is imperative.
Traditionally, educators have been at the forefront of expanding learners’ knowledge and thinking. We suggest that the role of the educator is deepened to include the skill of facilitating a panoramic perspective of the world for learners in their classrooms. This expansive view requires an intentional development of a perspective consciousness, as defined by Hanvey (1982: 162):
The recognition or awareness on the part of the individual that he or she has a view of the world that is not universally shared, that this view of the world has been and continues to be shaped by influences that often escape conscious detection, and that others have views of the world that are profoundly different from one’s own.
In other words, perspective consciousness is being awakened to one’s own unique perspective and its limitations. Broadening our perspective and increasing our knowledge of that of others is a fluid endeavour and enables learners to embrace the experiences and ideas of others. If this is the goal, the question then becomes: How can educators bring this quest to fruition?
Literature is positioned as a powerful catalyst for the expansion of perspective, acceptance of varied lived experiences and discovery of connections between ourselves and those removed from our reality. Rochman (1993: 9) asserts, ‘The best books break down borders. They surprise us – whether they are set close to home or abroad. They change our view of ourselves; they extend that phrase “like me” to include what was foreign and strange.’ Many teachers look to their classroom collection of books when seeking ways to engage learners. Historically, books have been the epicentre of expanding the imagination, curiosity and understanding of the world for readers young and older. In the current educational landscape, teachers often face challenges regarding the time and expertise that are needed to select rich and relevant texts for their classrooms. This article presents book collections with an intentional focus on the development of perspective consciousness. The goal of the collections offered moves beyond mere perspective identification for learners and encourages continuous development of the disposition of perspective consciousness. We believe that teachers and school librarians can generate year-round instructional activities and seek culturally relevant and challenging resources to seed the development of perspective consciousness within their learning communities. Simultaneously, teachers and librarian educators must ensure the inclusion of experiences within their courses that promote the exploration and expand the understanding of perspective consciousness that will consequentially influence their students’ future practice. To support educators in this charge, this article offers themed resource sets to inspire the systematic cultivation of perspective consciousness – a foundational attribute of a global citizen.
Global citizenship education
Our current work focuses on the idea of cultivating the dispositions required of a global citizen (Shulsky et al., 2017; Shulsky and Hendrix, 2016). Through this exploration, we have concluded that defining global citizenship and its supporting ideals is a far from straightforward endeavour. The body of literature regarding citizenship roles within the globalized context ranges in interpretation (Banks, 2008; Bista and Saleh, 2014; Bosniak, 2001; Caruana, 2014; Clifford and Montgomery, 2014; Eidoo et al., 2011; Karlberg, 2008; Scott Belt, 2016). The challenge of articulating what a global citizen is, complicates educational approaches in its cultivation. Most commonly, and with levels of variation, global citizenship education (GCE) is an avenue to the development of global mindedness. UNESCO (2019: 1) states, ‘Global Citizenship Education aims to empower learners to assume active roles to face and resolve global challenges and to become proactive contributors to a more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive and secure world.’ Myers (2016: 4) attests to the layered aspects of GCE as removed from mere civics education and expanded to global contexts when he contends:
A better model for understanding GCE is a web of interconnected and intersecting experiences as individuals become aware of the ways that political issues and actors shape the local, familiar world around them. Thus, teaching youth to understand how to engage with the world can hardly ‘stop at the border,’ whether a real or imagined border at a local, regional or national scale.
We understand that, contextually, the concept of globalization itself is highly debated as nationalist movements become more popular around the globe. This state of affairs highlights the complexity of the twenty-first century, where borders are fading due to technological advancements. In such a world, the reality is that we, as citizens of our individual nations, do have a stake in the actions and reactions of others. It is this reality that holds global citizenship education as an imperative to prevent myopic views of the world. Regardless of pedagogical philosophy, educators need to address the ever-changing nature of citizenship in a globalized world.
Perspective consciousness in its simplest form is the realization that the reality of others is not the same as ours. Being awakened to the fact that not all hold our view of the world is at the heart of a global community that looks beyond constructed geographical borders. Without an awakening of perspective consciousness, one’s egocentric lens will create a barrier between the ‘other’ and us. This distance leads to the introversion of thought in ways that inhibit the development of essential dispositions in a global society. Shulsky and Hendrix (2016: 103) view perspective consciousness as the epicentre of the development of the following habits of mind for global citizenship: (1) broadmindedness – ‘the willingness to see and hear ideas removed from one’s personal paradigm’; (2) innate contemplation – ‘deep reflection as a natural, initial instinct’; and (3) critical conviction – ‘deep-seated belief that one is open to analytical exploration and possible evolution’.
The narratives that make up our outlook on the world are, on the surface, constructed by our nationality, culture, religion, social status, age and gender (Burnouf, 2004). Perspective consciousness unearths aspects of perspective that are concealed below the surface of these seemingly transparent characteristics. Our views can be blatantly or covertly biased, prejudicial and/or stereotypical (Bell et al., 2015). Consequently, the cultivation of perspective consciousness is an imperative in the charge of developing global-minded members of society who possess ways of being that resist prejudice, challenge stereotypes and embody empathy.
Standards and impact
In the era of the new American Association of School Librarian (AASL, 2018) standards, diverse perspectives in the context of globalization are prominent throughout the document. This challenges teachers, librarians and educators in preparation programmes to consider meaningful practices and rich activities that promote both teachers’ and learners’ expansion of perspective. In consonance with the AASL, the National Standards for the Preparation of Social Studies Teachers charge teachers and teacher educators with the promotion of civic dispositions and competences, and with preparing learners to be ‘informed advocates for an inclusive and equitable society’ (NCSS, 2017: 25). Additionally, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE, 2020) updated their Standards for Students to recognize the need to broaden perspectives and collaborate with others around the world. The work of these organizations and others echo the nearly two-decades long mission of the Partnership for 21st Century Learning (P21, 2014), the current iteration of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. The following is asserted within the organization’s Global Education Framework:
P21 believes that students should develop the attitudes, skills, and knowledge to understand and participate in a globally connected world. This includes the capacity to:
Explore their own cultures, make comparisons with other cultures and investigate global issues and challenges.
Improve their critical thinking, problem solving, perspective taking, and research skills.
Develop awareness of cultural diversity and global issues. (P21, 2014: 1)
Building from this foundation, P21’s (2014: 2) Global Education Framework provides a series of essential elements and actions which support teachers in reaching levels of global competence that will enhance students’ preparation for college, careers and life. This mission directly correlates with the new National Standards for the Preparation of Social Studies Teachers as evidenced in Standard 5 – Professional responsibility and informed action, which states:
Candidates reflect and expand upon their social studies knowledge, inquiry skills, and civic dispositions to advance social justice and promote human rights through informed action in schools and/or communities. (NCSS, 2017: 25)
More specifically, Element 5b articulates:
Candidates explore, interrogate, and reflect upon their own cultural frames to attend issues of equity, diversity, access, power, human rights, and social justice within their schools and/or communities. (NCSS, 2017: 25)
A clear pattern of the intentional development of a global perspective is present within multiple professional standards across educational disciplines. These standards support the premise of this article – that the development of perspective consciousness is an imperative habit of mind in a global citizen.
Seeding resource sets
Instructional leaders, including teachers, librarians and educators, in preparation programmes are curators of resources and hold an impactful position that enables them to facilitate the development of perspective consciousness in varied educational contexts. Seeding this disposition is foundational in cultivating learners’ discovery of others’ lived experiences and comparative realities – a way of being required of a global-minded citizen.
Table 1 presents themes and titles to inspire the curation of resource sets positioned to seed the development of perspective consciousness and more expansive views of the world. We present the titles as a starting point of innovation in the curation of book collections aligned with the development of empathetic, compassionate and broad-minded human beings. The hope is that these titles spark discussion and innovative thought when deciding how to select and share books that awaken learners to the realities of a world beyond their own.
|Acceptance (GCE goals 1, 3)||1.||Hello, My Name is Octicorn, K. Diller, J. Lowe and T. Binny|
|2.||Her Right Foot, D. Eggers and S. Harris|
|3.||Red: A crayon’s story, M. Hall|
|4.||Spork, K. Maclear and I. Arsenault|
|5.||Strictly No Elephants, L. Mantchev and T. Yoo|
|6.||The Tiny Tale of Little Pea, D. Cali and S. Mourrain|
|7.||Why Am I Me?, P. Britt, S. Qualls and S. Alko|
|8.||Zero, K. Otoshi|
|Access (GCE goals 1, 2, 4)||1.||Manjhi Moves a Mountain, N. Churnin and D. Popovici|
|2.||Mimi’s Village: And how basic health care transformed it, K. Smith Milway and E. Fernandes|
|3.||Rain School, J. Rumford|
|4.||Rice from Heaven: The secret mission to feed North Koreans, T. Cho and K.J. Song|
|5.||The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, W. Kamkwamba, B. Mealer and E. Zunun|
|6.||The Water Princess, by S. Verde, G. Badiel and P.H. Reynolds|
|7.||Waiting for the Biblioburro, M. Brown and J. Parra|
|8.||We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in pictures, Amnesty International|
|Conflict (GCE goals 1, 2, 3, 4)||1.||Draw the Line, K. Otoshi|
|2.||Enemy Pie, by D. Munson and T. Calahan King|
|3.||Feathers and Fools, M. Fox and N. Wilton|
|4.||Flowers for Sarajevo, J. McCutcheon and K. Caldwell|
|5.||Global Conflict, L. Spilsbury and H. Kai|
|6.||The Butter Battle Book, Dr Suess|
|7.||The Day the Crayons Quit, D. Daywalt and O. Jeffers|
|8.||The Forgiveness Garden, L. Thompson and C. Hale|
|Diversity (GCE goals 1, 2, 3, 4)||1.||Africa is Not a Country, M. Burns Knight, M. Melnicove and A. Sibley O’Brien|
|2.||I’m New Here, A. Sibley O’Brien|
|3.||My Name is Bilal, A. Mobin-Uddin and B. Kiwak|
|4.||Racism and Intolerance, L. Spilsbury and H. Kai|
|5.||Scribbleville, P. Holwitz|
|6.||Skin Again, b. hooks and C. Raschka|
|7.||The Skin You Live In, M. Tyler and D.L. Csicsko|
|8.||Whoever You Are, M. Fox and L. Staub|
|Ecological awareness (GCE goals 1, 2, 3, 4)||1.||Ada’s Violin: The story of the recycled orchestra of Paraguay, S. Hood and S.W. Comport|
|2.||All around Us, X. Gonzalez and A.M. Garcia|
|3.||Heal the Earth, J. Lennon, B. Davis and S. Coh|
|4.||One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the recycling women of the Gambia, M. Paul|
|5.||Parrots over Puerto Rico, S.L. Roth and C. Trumbore|
|6.||Rachel Carson and Her Book that Changed the World, L. Lawlor and L. Beingessner|
|7.||The Earth Book, T. Parr|
|8.||The Problem of the Hot World, P. Bonsper and D. Rink|
|Empowerment (GCE goal 3)||1.||Beatrice’s Goat, P. McBrier and L. Lohstoeter|
|2.||Dear Mr. Rosenwald, C. Boston Weatherford and R.G. Christie|
|3.||Emmanuel’s Dream: The true story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, L.A. Thompson and S. Qualls|
|4.||Hey, Wall: A story of art and community, S. Verde and J. Parra|
|5.||Magic Trash: A story of Tyree Guyton and his art, J.H. Shapiro and V. Brantley-Newton|
|6.||One Hen: How one small loan made a big difference, K. Smith Milway and E. Fernandes|
|7.||The Good Garden: How one family went from hunger to having enough, K. Smith Milway and S. Daigneault|
|8.||Yatandou, G. Whelan and P. Sylvada|
|Equality (GCE goals 1, 4)||1.||Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909, M. Markel and M. Sweet|
|2.||Drum Dream Girl: How one girl’s courage changed music, M. Engle and R. López|
|3.||Hidden Figures: The true story of four black women and the space race, M. Leee Shetterly, W. Conkling and L. Freeman|
|4.||Mama Africa! How Miriam Makeba spread hope with her song, K. Erskine and C. Palmer|
|5.||Pride: The story of Harvey Milk and the rainbow flag, R. Sanders and S. Salerno|
|6.||Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The case of R.B.G. vs Inequality, J. Winter|
|7.||The Case for Loving: The fight for interracial marriage, S. Alko and S. Qualls|
|8.||This Little Trailblazer: A girl power primer, J. Holub and D. Roode|
|Immigration (GCE goals 1, 2, 4)||1.||Irving Berlin: The immigrant boy who made America sing, N. Churnin and J. Rey Sanchez|
|2.||King of the Sky, N. Davies and L. Carlin|
|3.||Mama’s Nightingale: A story of immigration and separation, E. Danticat and L. Staub|
|4.||One Green Apple, E. Bunting and T. Lewin|
|5.||The Day War Came, N. Davies and R.Cobb|
|6.||The Journey, F. Sanna|
|7.||The Matchbox Diary, P. Fleischman and B. Ibatouline|
|8.||Two White Rabbits, J. Buitrago and R. Yockteng|
|Inclusiveness (GCE goals 1, 3, 4)||1.||A Friend like Simon, K. Gaynor and C. Sweeney|
|2.||Just Because, R. Elliott|
|3.||Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match, M. Brown and S. Palacios|
|4.||Nerdy Birdy, A. Reynolds and M. Davies|
|5.||One of a Kind Like Me = Único como yo, L. Mayeno, R. Liu-Truijillo and T. Mlawer|
|6.||Silent Days, Silent Dreams, A. Say|
|7.||We’re All Wonders, R.J. Palacio|
|Kindness (GCE goal 3)||1.||A Girl with a Cape: The true story about the superhero in all of us, A. Logan and T. Wendt|
|2.||Be Kind, P. Zietlow Miller and J. Hill|
|3.||Bloom with Mi: ‘Using our gifts to give’, A. Kavelaris|
|4.||Come with Me, H.M. McGhee and P. Lemaître|
|5.||If You Plant a Seed, K. Nelson|
|6.||My Two Blankets, I. Kobald and F. Blackwood|
|7.||The Boy and the Whale, M. Gerstein|
|8.||Willow Finds a Way, L. Button and T. Howells|
|Poverty (GCE goals 1, 2, 4)||1.||A Different Pond, B. Phi and T. Bui|
|2.||A Shelter in Our Car, M. Gunning and E. Pedlar|
|3.||Coat of Many Colors, D. Parton and B. Boynton Hughes|
|4.||Fly Away Home, E. Bunting and R. Himler|
|5.||Maddi’s Fridge, L. Brandt and V. Vogel|
|6.||Poverty and Hunger, L. Spilsbury and H. Kai|
|7.||Still a Family: A story about homelessness, B. Reeves Sturgis and J.-S. Lee|
|8.||The Can Man, L.E. Williams and C. Orback|
|Refugees (GCE goals 1, 2, 4)||1.||Marwan’s Journey, P. de Arias and L. Borràs|
|2.||My Beautiful Birds, S. Del Rizzo|
|3.||Oskar and the Eight Blessings, R. Simon, T. Simon and M. Siegel|
|4.||Refugees and Migrants (Children in our World), C. Roberts and H. Kai|
|5.||Stepping Stones: A refugee family’s journey, M. Ruurs, N.A. Badr and F. Raheem|
|6.||Teacup, R. Young and M. Ottley|
|7.||The Banana Leaf Ball: How play can change the world, K. Smith Milway and S.W. Evans|
|8.||The Map of Good Memories, F. Nuño, Z. Celej and J. Brokenbow|
|Sharing (GCE goal 1, 3)||1.||14 Cows for America, C.A. Deedy and T. Gonzalez|
|2.||A Good Trade, A. Fullerton and K. Patkau|
|3.||Four Feet, Two Sandals, K.L. Williams, K. Mohammed and D. Chayka|
|4.||Lulu and Lainey ... at the Farm, L. Petren and T. Russita|
|5.||Shelter, C. Claire and Q. Leng|
|6.||The Granddaughter Necklace, S.D. Wyeth and B. Ibatoulline|
|7.||The Red Bicycle: The extraordinary story of one ordinary bicycle, J. Isabella and S. Shin|
|8.||Those Shoes, M. Boelts and N.Z. Jones|
|Social activism (GCE goals 3, 4)||1.||A is for Activist, I. Nagara|
|2.||Fred Korematsu Speaks Up (Fighting for Justice), L. Atkins, S. Yogi and Y. Houlette|
|3.||Harvesting Hope: The story of Cesar Chavez, K. Krull and Y. Morales|
|4.||Malala: Activist for girls’ education, R. Frier, A. Fronty and J. Cormier|
|5.||Miss Paul and the President: The creative campaign for women’s right to vote, D. Robbins and N. Zhang|
|6.||Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and her family’s fight for desegregation, D. Tonatiuh|
|7.||The Youngest Marcher: The story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a young civil rights activist, C. Levinson and V. Brantley-Newton|
|8.||Wangari Maathai: The woman who planted millions of trees, F. Prévot and A. Fronty|
Note: GCE goal notations are interpretative and may be aligned to one’s personal understanding and application of the goals.
As any educator well knows, there is often an endless list of books from which to develop special collections. This was true as we curated the books highlighted in this article. Our organizational system was based on broad categories of thought by which learners can begin to shift their view of the world in humble ways that seed actions to make a difference in their immediate world and beyond. The books within this list are aligned with the common goals of global citizenship education, as articulated by UNESCO (2019). The goals of a global education include:
an understanding of the interconnectedness with others from around the globe;
an increased knowledge of how economies, cultures, environments, governments, and geography impact all citizens;
the cultivation of the skills, attitudes, and values that promote collaboration and empowered action to change on both an individual and collective level; and
the actions that develop a socially just and sustainable world. (Castle, 2014)
The categorization of the titles in Table 1 have noted correlations (GCE goal 1, GCE goal 2, etc.) to UNESCO’s global citizenship education goals. These themes are unbounded and the books can be categorized in a multitude of ways. In addition, readers should note the purposeful absence of age/grade levels for the books presented. This conscious choice aligns with our contention that picture books can be used with learners of any age, even adults, to engage them in age-appropriate critical discussions and activities about meaningful topics. At the very least, these books will empower readers to give thought to a new world view.
Perspective consciousness and mindfulness
We contend that development of mindfulness in learners intertwines with the formation of perspective consciousness. Recently, a range of titles has been written on mindfulness. Most of these titles focus on the practice of promoting an awareness of feelings, access to calmness and conscious reaction. In a study by Cardaciotto et al. (2008), the Philadelphia Mindfulness Scale assessed present-moment awareness and acceptance. Books with this focus build the foundation for both inner and outer awareness – a foundational component of a rich perspective consciousness. As such, we recommend that educators include titles specifically focused on mindfulness. A World of Pausabilities (Sileo and Zivoin, 2017) and Silence (Lemniscates, 2012) are offered as inspirational starter books that will help to develop a reciprocal scaffolded curriculum that will awaken learners’ consciousness to themselves and the world around them.
Considerations for book selection
Expertise in the selection of books for collections varies, depending on the educational roles of those undertaking this task. Librarians are experts in implementing selection criteria and, in this respect, are valuable partners to teachers. Teachers, on the other hand, may possess limited knowledge regarding the thoughtful curation of special book collections. No matter the level of expertise, foundational processes should be employed when selecting books for focused book collections. As book collections are put together, the following American Library Association’s (ALA, 2018) baseline criteria should be considered and used in the selection, analysis and curation of resources:
Does the collection support and/or enrich the curriculum?
Does the collection support and/or enrich learners’ interests and learning?
Are the books, texts and/or illustrations of high quality?
Are the books appropriate for the learner?
Do the books contain accurate, authentic, factual information?
Have the books earned positive reviews and recommendations?
Are the books of high interest to the learners?
Does the collection offer differing viewpoints on controversial issues?
Do the books provide a global perspective?
Do the books promote diversity through the characters, authors, and illustrators?
Does the collection include both print and digital formats?
Is the durability of the books suitable for the audience?
Are the books within the collection cost-effective?
Does the collection mirror the population of learners?
This list provides a solid foundation for curating a book collection; however, it seems to have a limited focus on diversity and global perspective. We suggest extending these selection criteria with an intentional focus on the development of perspective consciousness. The extension of such criteria requires a more narrow approach, one guided by critical analysis. As selections are made, emphasis should be placed upon the mindful engagement of learners’ hearts in regard to humanity. The following list of prompts offers a starting point for such a fine-tuned selection process:
Are multiple perspectives regarding shared human experiences represented?
Does the book expand or shift the learners’ lens of themselves and/or that of others?
Is there potential to build an understanding and acceptance of others’ lived experiences?
Does the book expose readers to the ideals of empathy, compassion and open-mindedness?
Does the book inspire readers to step into the role of a compassionate global citizen?
Nurturing ways: Learner activities
It is not enough just to have a thoughtfully selected book on the classroom bookshelf. The power of literature, beyond the words on the page, relies on the activities and meaningful inquiry inspired by those words. To this end, we offer springboard activities that can extend the concept of perspective consciousness as well as many other admirable dispositions and traits required of open-eyed citizens. Educators are encouraged to use these activities in partnership with the suggested literature and other relevant books within their own educational context.
Zoom in on an image in the book and facilitate a focused discussion on the similarities and differences of the portrayed experiences to encourage learners to view and think about the perspectives of others. Possible questions that promote perspective consciousness, as adapted from Wiggins and McTighe (2005), may include:
What does the image tell us about the experience or character?
How is the image like something in your life?
How is the character like you?
What would you like to know about this image?
What would you like to ask of those in this image?
What different points of view are present in the image?
How does the story told by the image connect to your life?
How could the image be viewed or understood from another’s perspective?
How is the story/image different from your own experience?
Place yourself in the image. What do you think you would experience?
How is what is illustrated in the image different from your own experience?
Question formulation technique (QFT)
This technique cultivates learners’ ability to pose and formulate questions about what they are learning and the world around them. Self-generated questions encourage learners to move beyond superficial treatment and acceptance of knowledge, experience and interactions with others. As presented by Rothstein and Santana (2011), the QFT follows these steps:
Educators select a question focus (Qfocus). It may be an image, quote, artefact, song, etc.
Present Qfocus to learners.
Learners identify different types of questions (open-ended, close-ended) and transform questions (e.g. transform a select number of open-ended to closed; close-ended to open).
Learners prioritize questions.
Once a classroom list of questions is generated, the educator can use them as inspiration for a variety of activities, i.e. personalized research; compelling, inquiry-based explorations and as catalysts for high-interest, student-inspired classroom lessons.
3D perspective role play
This activity positions learners as characters or inanimate objects within a book. Learners are guided through the process as follows:
Project an image from the book.
Discuss the perspectives shown in the image.
Distribute thought-bubble templates to learners, who then compose a perspective position on their thought bubble for any selected character or object. For example, given an image of Christopher Columbus and his men in discussion with people of First Nations, learners write a script of the conversation between the characters. The boat in the foreground or the clouds could show an alternative perspective to the scene beyond what the characters would share.
Randomly select learners to stand in front of the image with their thought bubbles, creating a living discussion from a variety of perspectives.
Five senses poetry
Writing poetry is often challenging for learners. This strategy softens the challenge by merging poetry and perspective exploration through the following steps:
Set the purpose for listening/viewing as being aware of the emotions stirred by the experience.
Read a book aloud or share an image with the learners.
After reading/viewing, learners remain silent and identify the emotions that surfaced.
Generate a class list of learners’ emotions.
Ask learners to choose an emotion (which can be from the list or not). State the emotion as a title and equate it with the following:
is bright yellow.
tastes like lemon gelato.
smells like suntan lotion.
feels like the softest of blankets.
sounds like the purring of a cat.
Share poems and compare varied emotions stirred by the literature or image.
This writing strategy places learners in the shoes of a character, encouraging them to write from their perspective as guided by the following:
R = Role (i.e. Christopher Columbus)
A = Audience (i.e. people of First Nations)
F = Format (i.e. a Tweet)
T = Topic (i.e. Columbus’s visit).
The use of mythical beings for ‘R’ in RAFT can encourage learners to look at familiar topics in new ways. For example, an Alien Information Team who investigates Thanksgiving should approach the topic with no preconceived notions, allowing for authentic inquiry into the topic. This activity could be completed using a digital writing application.
Community service projects
As inspired by an issue explored in a book, learners create a community service project that includes these steps:
Research the topic.
Generate ideas that can help to influence the issue.
Choose an idea that can be transformed into a community service project.
Possible other perspectives (POP!)
This activity encourages learners to advocate for a character from a counterperspective of the presented story. After reading a book, attend to the following:
Ask learners about the possible other sides to this story.
Generate a list.
Select one of the counter stories.
As one of the original characters in the book, address the following scenario: A newspaper has reported the original story of the book. Your assigned character has a different perspective (counterstory). You read this newspaper article and are outraged by the biased reporting and twisted slant of the article. Committed to the full story being told, you write a letter to the editor setting the newspaper straight.
Create a bulletin board with all the POP! stories.
As an additional step, ask the students to select a letter, reply as the editor and include supporting evidence for their position.
It is innate for educators to explore perspective through literature. By their very nature books offer different views of the world. However, we suggest that the intentional and consistent cultivation of perspective consciousness should be a mainstay of the everyday routine of classrooms. These suggested activities are starting points in seeding this habit of mind. Although the books listed are children’s picture books, these books and activities can be used with learners of all ages. More complex chapter books or excerpts from novels can additionally be used alongside these activities.
Educators are positioned to empower global citizenship. They can provide opportunities and rich experiences that develop global-minded learners to possess the ideals of acceptance, altruism and empathy. The book collections and accompanying activities shared in this article provide a first step in the lifelong journey of expanding one’s perspective beyond one’s personal orbit. This article serves as a call for educators to thoughtfully expand their book collections and design curricular learning experiences that actively promote the development of perspective consciousness. The realization that our problems are contextually unique, yet often similar to others around the globe, is a developmentally complex realization. Thoughtfully curated book collections are the catalyst to discovering a panoramic perspective of the world.