I’ll admit it; I’m a book nerd. I studied English literature in college and grew up being read to and reading hundreds of books. Because of this, I know that I have been shaped by what I have read.
It occurred to me recently that cultural stories and values are perpetuated in literature. This is why it can be so interesting and valuable to study literature from many time periods and cultures; we can learn a little more about how we have thought in the past and how we think now. We can find out more about what being human means from many different perspectives. Even fiction is at its heart a story of us, and many times can be easier than historical fact to examine the parts of our stories that need a more objective view. Telling our own personal stories and hearing those of others is very important in peace building, but I would argue that figuring out stories that are embedded in our cultural psyches are also important, so that we can understand what ideas have influenced us–whether they are ideas about peace and justice or any other value.
A good book is a great way to start for that, and a great way to start conversations about peace and justice with children especially. Reading and discussion is a large part of language instruction as well, so choosing a reading text for your classroom that both meets language learning needs and sparks discussion about peace is a tangible way to integrate peace education into a language curriculum.
Teachpeacenow.org is full of excellent resources along these lines, and in particular I’d like to share their Great Children’s Book list, which includes lists of books that can be used for Peace Education along with discussion questions and lesson ideas to go along with them.
What books can you use in your class room to teach needed vocabulary and reading skills and foster peace education?