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Using Literature to Inspire Children

Debra Pellegrino, Ed.D., dean of The Panuska College of Professional Studies, recently gave a lecture titled “Using Children’s Literature to Teach Social Justice” in Leahy Hall on campus.
March 26, 2018
By: Breanna Forgione ’18, student correspondent

“If we use children’s literature to contextualize the complexity of our world for young people, we can grow the next generation of world leaders while also developing their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills,” said Debra Pellegrino, Ed.D., dean of The Panuska College of Professional Studies at The University of Scranton, who recently gave a lecture titled “Using Children’s Literature to Teach Social Justice” to Northeastern Reading Association members.

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Reading Association is a professional organization serving more than 30 school districts, colleges, libraries and child care providers in Lackawanna, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties. The association is dedicated to improving and promoting literacy in the area schools and communities served, and is a local council of the Keystone State Reading Association and the International Literacy Association.

A former elementary school teacher and professor of literacy and elementary education, Dean Pellegrino has decades of academic and practical experience teaching literacy. In addition to numerous scholarly papers on teaching, literacy and Jesuit education, she is the author of a chapter entitled “Social Justice and the Ignatian Tradition” in Jesuit Education and Social Justice: the Pedagogy of Educating the Educators.

Dean Pellegrino is also a lover of literacy who strives to make a difference in the Scranton community and beyond.

“You can make a difference. Show children how they can contribute make the world fairer. Give children examples of when social justice is at work and when it’s not. Help children understand better a variety of cultures, types of people and situations,” said Dean Pellegrino as she discussed the

importance of utilizing children’s literature to provide an opportunity for children to explore and learn about new people, places and ideas.

 “Using books for social justice issues tells untold stories, and assures that there are multiple ways to look at something – a person, story or history,” said Dean Pellegrino.

Dean Pellegrino also emphasized the power of writing journals and the benefits of students regularly recording their observations to be more aware of the world around them and how they can make a difference.

 “I don’t think you can understand literacy without understanding the connection between reading and writing. To me, a writer’s notebook can be many things. It’s a place to make mistakes, to experiment, to record overheard conversations or family stories, to remember an inspiring quotation, to ask questions, to record language, to tell the truth or to lie, to remember things, or to describe a picture or a person or an image you can’t get out of your head,” said Dean Pellegrino.

The lecture contained interactive elements in working directly with children’s literature and breaking it down through content brainstorming and picture walks. Each attendee received a copy of Listen to the Wind, a children’s story written by Greg Mortenson and Susan L. Roth.

Breanna Forgione ’18, Levittown, is a strategic communication major at The University of Scranton.
Breanna Forgione ’18, Levittown, is a strategic communication major at The University of Scranton.
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