A while ago we shared a resource for books on bullying, and also a list of Children’s books for use in Peace education, and I was reminded about it reading an article by Jennifer Luke and Catherine Myers. The article, entitled Toward Peace: Using Literature to Aid Conflict Resolution, says more eloquently and succinctly the thoughts I have had floating around in my head for some time:
“Children cannot develop positive conflict resolution skills until adults help them to define their problems. “Teachers can help children understand the problems that cause their conflicts in terms that make sense to them” (Carlsson-Paige & Levin, 1992). Children’s literature is possibly one of the best resources available to teachers. Using literature, teachers can present conflicts in such a way that children are able to visualize the conflict, empathize with the characters and appreciate nonviolent resolutions to disputes. “Providing opportunities for children to read and listen to stories that portray different types of conflicts and possible resolutions helps them gain a broadened perspective and see the skills of peacemaking at work” (Schomberg, 1993, p. 9).”
The article also provides its own list of literature, highlighting texts that fit particular kinds of conflict that might especially effect children, like misunderstandings between friends or family, jealousy, playground skirmishes, etc and also more broader potential conflict areas, like peace among different groups and global peace.
I also especially appreciated the note the article made about choosing books cautiously. Not all books that include conflict provide space for instruction, or show how conflict can be resolved peacefully. They can perhaps help spark discussion of what isn’t the right way to handle conflict, but maybe these shouldn’t be the first books we pick for students; instead perhaps they might be an appropriate option later, after students are familiar with many different positive strategies for resolving conflict.
How can you use literature in your class to help your students imagine new ways to approach conflict?
How might you use discretion in choosing literature for you class? What kinds of books might not be helpful?