Finding Your Inner Superhero: OLA jot notes
Fourth in a series by Natalie C., one of our fabulous reference librarians, who was lucky to attend 3 days at the OLA Super conference:
In Bring Your Own Cape: Using Novels and Non-Fiction Narratives to Further Themes of Diversity, Equity and Social Justice, presenter and author Natasha Deen argued that by teaching kids the importance of reading and writing we could also teach them to be superheroes.
For Deen, being a superhero is not the same as just being powerful. Referencing the deaths experienced by Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne before they became Batman & Spider-Man, Deen asserted: “Finding the superhero within is not just about being awesome. It’s taking power from the terrible. The things that happen in your life that are terrible, they are there to help you rise.”
Deen believes that by sharing diverse stories, kids can learn to recognize the value in their differences — what the world often uses to put them down — and access their power.
By encouraging students to write, Deen says that we’re allowing students to “peek behind the curtain.” By writing, students can learn not only about how narratives in the stories they read are purposefully shaped and structured to convey specific messages, but how these messages can in turn shape and structure the story of their own lives.
Through books with themes of diversity, equity and social justice, Deen believes that educators can teach students that they can all make a difference: “The world’s telling you to look a certain way to be powerful and yet the most powerful thing in the world is kindness. Why are we letting people tell us that only big things count? Little things matter. All of us change the world.”
So how can you help students find their inner superhero?Deen has compiled a list of texts that promote diversity, equity and social justice. Additionally, she has created several question sheets to help educators use some of these texts to inspire discussion.