Exploring #OwnVoices (A Guest Post by Karly Marie Grice)

IMG_3251This week, the Imagination & Inquiry team is happy to bring you a guest post by recent OSU grad Karly Grice, who is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Millikin University. Karly is a stellar teacher and person, and the project she discusses in this post is literally award-winning. Read on to learn more about the unique assignment Karly implemented to deepen the conversations her students were having around diversity in youth literature and to help students engage in the practice of locating, analyzing, and discussing #OwnVoices books. 

But Why Do #WeNeedDiverseBooks Told in #OwnVoices?

The initial episode that led me to create the #OwnVoices Project came at the end of my first semester teaching a multicultural children’s literature course to pre-service teachers. Despite spending the semester discussing the dearth of diversity in children’s literature and the need to incorporate more diverse representations into their future classrooms, my students left the class with only a cursory knowledge of the texts available to them based on the required novels I assigned throughout the term. Students seemed happy to know about books like American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson and to consider them for use in their future classrooms. However, when we talked about their takeaways from the course, many students wrote complacently about how far diversity in children’s literature had come, as if “yay, we fixed the diversity problem!” and could now move on to other topics. They overlooked the conversations within the field of children’s literature that stressed how much further it still needed to go.

Continue reading “Exploring #OwnVoices (A Guest Post by Karly Marie Grice)”

Teaching Online

So you’re going to be teaching youth literature online…: Focus on the Possibilities

Welcome to our first post in an ongoing series on teaching online. Today, I’m writing a bit about one of the biggest difficulties I had in teaching online: my attitude.

I was assigned my first online youth literature course in the summer of 2016. I’d taught the in-person section of our introduction to young adult literature course several times, frequently using our online course management system to give assignments, offer feedback, and more. I’d even taken a mini course on online teaching offered for graduate students at OSU. How hard could teaching online be? Continue reading “So you’re going to be teaching youth literature online…: Focus on the Possibilities”

Classroom Discussion, Creative Pedagogies

Recommended Activities for Implementing Creative Pedagogies in the LCYA Classroom

A few weeks ago, several members of the Imagination & Inquiry team had a conversation about creative pedagogies within our youth literature classes. We believe firmly that including creative activities and assignments benefits students and helps them think about youth literature in new and exciting ways. Our discussion largely focused on more abstract ideas around creative pedagogies (e.g. how to balance creative and more traditional assignments and activities in a classroom or how to work with students to help them see the critical side of creative work). With today’s post, we wanted to give a few ideas of some of the creative assignments and in-class activities we’ve implemented in our classrooms. We hope these ideas are useful to you as you work to bring variety into your classroom, and we look forward to sharing more ideas of creative pedagogies in the future. Continue reading “Recommended Activities for Implementing Creative Pedagogies in the LCYA Classroom”


Incorporating Choice into Your Book List

In November, I posted about ways to make sure that you’re choosing texts for your classroom that allow for an engaging and diverse learning environment. This week, I’m back to tackle ways to incorporate student choice into your book list. Throughout my time teaching children’s and young adult literature courses, students have consistently given me positive feedback on the ways that I allow them to pursue their interests and have agency over their readings.

Below I discuss ways that you can incorporate choice into both weekly book choices and major classroom assignments. I also provide suggestions for how to lesson plan around a class where students come in having read different novels.

Continue reading “Incorporating Choice into Your Book List”

Classroom Community

Building Relationships with Students

Two and a half years ago, I was a PhD student and a GTA who had just moved to the United States from India with absolutely no idea as to how American university classrooms functioned. One of my worst fears before I began teaching here was how I would connect with my students. I was fairly familiar with American pop culture, but I still spelt words the British way. I knew I’d be a kind and helpful teacher, but I didn’t know how feedback and grades were offered to students. I knew the subject matter, but I didn’t know what sort of conflicts would come up in my classroom and how I, as a non-American teacher, was going to handle them. I taught with a lot of fear in my heart during the first semester of my teaching at the university. I realized that the need for establishing a nurturing, safe, and compassionate community for learning is a universal one, but it was initially hard for me to understand how to build a community in a classroom where the students did not look or talk like me. After having taught for seven semesters, I still worry about whether or not I am doing a good job of connecting with my students, but I do know that critical self-reflection and the willingness to get to know students has enabled me to work on creating open, safe, and constructive communities in the classroom. In this post, I discuss the two main ways in which I have thought about and acted on building relationships with my students in the past two years. Continue reading “Building Relationships with Students”

Classroom Discussion


In discussion-based classes, establishing classroom community early on can be essential; however, sometimes class icebreakers can feel forced or unrelated to larger course aims. We have all struggled initially with coming up with great activities for the first day of class, and, below, we’ve assembled some ideas that we have found work well for us. Many of these are explicitly connected to youth literature and others could be adapted to nearly every class. We hope you find something that fits your needs! Continue reading “Icebreakers”