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Books to Highlight Change

An old Chinese proverb states that “The journey of 1,000 begins with a single step."  Another colloquial warning against judgement is to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,” implying, of course, that we don’t really know what another person is “walking through” and therefore we should not pass judgement on anyone.  Pondering these two quotes together brings to mind thoughts of the humble beginnings of compassion, for, it seems, we have a thousand miles (or more) to bridge the divide between ourselves and others. 

If you are familiar with research of literacy or literacy theories even in the slightest, then you have no doubt come across the Transactional Theory of Reading conceptualized by Louise Rosenblatt (1938/1995).  Simply explained, Rosenblatt argued that through this transaction between the reader and the text, the reader can “live through” different experiences through the character, encountering the same situations, thoughts, desires, and outcomes of the protagonist (This is but one oversimplified explanation.  For more on Rosenblatt, see the References section at the end of this post).  To that end, readers can begin to build both empathy and more global perspectives through interactions with literature that he or she reads. 

This post highlights some literature (children’s, middle grades, and YA) that we feel can assist in changing reader perspectives and create more thoughtful dialogues with readers. 


All the Colors We Are by Katie Kissinger
Swimmy by Leo Lionni 

Happy Like Soccer by Maribeth Boelts
Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle

Middle Grades
Sylvia and Aki by Winifred Conking
Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacquline Woodson


How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon
If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth

This is just a small sample of books that can incite a change in and through the reader.  If you are looking for more titles of Books for Change, please visit Teaching for Change Books.


Rosenblatt, L. (1938). Literature as Exploration. New York. Modern Language Press. 
------------ (1978). The Reader, The Text, The Poem: The Transactional Theory of Literary Work. Carbondale, IL. Southern Illinois University Press.