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The Vulnerable Heart of Literacy

Centering Trauma as Powerful Pedagogy

Elizabeth Dutro Gerald Campano Megan Ollett

144 pages
Teachers College Press

What is trauma and what does it mean for the literacy curriculum? In this book, elementary teachers will learn how to approach difficult experiences through the everyday instruction and interactions in their classrooms. Readers will look inside classrooms and literacies across genres to see what can unfold when teachers are committed to compassionate, critical, and relational practice. Weaving her own challenging experiences into chapters brimming with children’s writing and voices, Dutro emphasizes that issues of power and privilege matter centrally to how attention to trauma positions children. The book includes questions and prompts for discussion, reflection, and practice and describes pedagogies and strategies designed to provide opportunities for children to bring the varied experiences of life, including trauma, to their school literacies, especially their writing, in positive, meaningful, and supported ways.

Book Features:

  • Offers a reconceptualization of trauma as a source of connection, reciprocity, knowledge, and literacy engagement.
  • Identifies three key tenets that teachers can follow to ensure that children’s experiences and perspectives are honored.
  • Shares classroom stories and literacy lessons, including many examples of children’s writing.
  • Includes sum-up reflections and discussion prompts.
  • Provides up-to-date lists of resources.
Author Bio

Elizabeth Dutro is a professor of education at the University of Colorado at Boulder.