ArticlePDF Available

Using Children's Picturebooks to Facilitate Restorative Justice Discussion


Abstract and Figures

To positively influence students’ behavior and social relationships in the school and community settings, teachers can support students during early interventions and active conversations. Conversations held during class time that use picturebooks and restorative practice activities can be an appropriate way to support student learning and engagement. Lessons and activities can be implemented through any subject and integrated into classroom discussions to support students’ relationships, personal growth, well‐being, and behaviors. Incorporating discussions surrounding picturebooks with specific messages relating to social skills or situations in the classroom or community can support a restorative justice framework. The authors present ideas and activities relating to using picturebooks while upholding a restorative environment.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Using Children’s Picturebooks
to Facilitate Restorative
Justice Discussion
Jessica Koltz, Sara Kersten-Parrish
Restorative practice can be integrated into classrooms or community
settings where conflict occurs; activities using picturebooks and
restorative circles that include restorative practice support students’
overall development, growth, social skills, and communication.
Perspectives on Restorative
Justice Practice
A practical application of the more recently estab-
lished strategy of restorative justice (RJ) can support
classroom conversation surrounding specific topics
that may be hard to discuss in a standard teaching
setting. Marshall (1996) defined RJ as an exercise
where all parties with a say in a specific situation,
such as a miscommunication or an incident relating
to an injustice, come together to find a solution as
a group; they actively discuss how to deal with the
implications of the incidence and a plan to support
future scenarios. “RJ is an alternative to zero toler-
ance discipline intended to safeguard students’ resil-
ience and improve their behavior and self-esteem”
(Knight & Wadhwa, 2014, p. 14). Schools can practice
RJ by supporting students through social justice and
conflict resolution strategies (Knight & Wadhwa,
2014). Some strategies include peer mediation pro-
grams, classroom or community meetings, youth
courts, or community circles (Knight & Wadhwa,
A restorative circle, also called a community
circle, is one way to support RJ practice. Restorative
circles support classroom community through
engaging and interactive conversations that can
support conflicts and other necessary discussions
surrounding a certain topic. Conversations sur-
rounding injustices can be addressed in the school
setting via the implementation of restorative cir-
cles. Grossi and Santos (2012) agreed that discus-
sion of injustice at an early age can help reduce
student behavior problems later in life. Curriculum
supporting social-emotional learning (SEL), with
tied-in discussions relating to problem solving and
conflict management, is usually supported in coun-
seling and guidance lessons. However, the reality is
that lessons should also be implemented through
other subjects and classroom discussions to support
relationships, personal growth, and well-being as
well as behaviors.
Integrating picturebooks into the classroom to
support a RJ framework can serve as a great support
for student voice and responsibility. Educators can
encourage supportive connections with students by
using stories that incorporate characters showing
collaboration and empathy (Wiseman & Jones, 2018).
Counselors use bibliotherapy to elicit children’s
responses and hold discussions relating to the story
in counseling, but picturebooks can also be used to
support social issues in general education classrooms
(Wiseman & Jones, 2018). Conversations through pic-
turebooks can support opportunities for students to
discuss current social situations and learn from one
Restorative Circles
The dialogue in a restorative circle is drawn from
Native American practices, such as having a keeper
The Reading Teacher Vol. 73 No. 5 pp. 637–645 doi:10.1002/trtr.1873 © 2019 International Literacy Association
Jessica Koltz is a doctoral student at the University of
Nevada, Reno, USA; email
Sara Kersten-Parrish is an assistant professor in the
College of Education at the University of Nevada, Reno,
USA; email
The Reading Teacher Vol. 73 No. 5 March/April 2020
and a talking piece. Every person in a classroom or
group is a part of the circle and can take an active
role. Including the keeper role in these circles helps
prevent interrupting.
A “keeper” acts as a facilitator, and participants pass
the talking piece —which can be any small object, such
as a stone or a shell—from person
to person where one can only speak
when the piece is in their posses-
sion. (Knight & Wadhwa, 2014, p. 15)
The topic of conversation for
the circle is first addressed with
the class. Then, if this is the first
circle of the year, rules are for-
mulated or readdressed; students
give their own input, agreeing on
norms to uphold during circle. The
use of hand gestures is a great way
to support involvement from par-
ticipants who do not have the talk-
ing piece; hand signals for “agree,”
“disagree,” “add on,” and “make
my own point” are ideal to have for
the successful practice of restor-
ative circles. Another key compo-
nent is to have present in the circle
the teacher with whom students
are engaging when the behaviors
or social concerns are arising.
Students or teachers can say when a restorative
circle is needed to support classroom community
and justice. The keeper usually begins and ends the
session, and students can address the topic, hope-
fully coming to an agreement for justice around
the concern. These key elements are embedded to
ensure equity for all, building a cooperative com-
petence within the classroom to deal with conf lict.
The focus on community ties supports resiliency
within and among students, adults, and others who
are present in the circle.
Tips are included throughout this article to sup-
port educators integrating ideas and practice into
their classrooms.
Supporting Restorative Practice
in the Classroom
When we mention the integration of various strate-
gies throughout this article, we are referring to mod-
eling that supports learning and conflict resolution;
these strategies can encourage community building
and restoration throughout classrooms, communi-
ties, and schools. Literacy practitioners can make an
impact on their students by gaining insights from
them to responsively uphold a positive social envi-
ronment, which directly supports students’ learn-
ing. One way to foster an inclusive environment that
incorporates both social skill building and literacy
learning is to use picturebooks.
Ideas discussed in this article
will support the implications
of holding RJ conversations
through picturebooks; infor-
mation will be able to support
all educational providers.
We begin with a literature
review of SEL and behaviors
within the school setting. We
address the importance of in -
tegrating picturebooks that relate
to common social issues and how
to support discussion among
students about their own con-
cerns. Then, we discuss how
to promote social justice, pro-
viding a voice for demoted
stu dent populations, and talk
about how to can use restor-
ative practice across curricular
settings, in content areas other
than language arts. Next, we provide a specific
example of how to use picturebooks with specific
RJ practices, using the characters and plots to sup-
port inclusiveness and diversity in the school cul-
ture. Finally, we provide examples of picturebooks to
share: interesting texts with current situations and
problems that are relatable for students.
Addressing SEL Through Conversation,
Literature, and Hands-On Experience
Teachers have a lot to do in the classroom: creat-
ing and preparing curriculum, initiating positive
behavior management conversations, supporting
students in academic skill development. Social
skills are as important to support in the classroom
as academic skills (Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki,
Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011). “Effective mastery of
social-emotional competencies is associated with
greater well-being and better school performance,
whereas the failure to achieve competence in these
areas can lead to a variety of personal, social, and
■ Do you have a regularly scheduled
time for students to discuss their
concerns about classroom conflict?
■ Do you support a community of
learners to actively practice conflict
■ Do you call out misbehavior in class
or address situations in a private
setting as they occur?
■ Do you model appropriate anger
management and conflict resolution
techniques in front of your students?
■ Have you observed other teachers’
methods of behavior management to
support RJ practices within your
school or district?
The Reading Teacher Vol. 73 No. 5 March/April 2020
academic difficulties” (Durlak etal., 2011, p. 406).
Social support can have complex influences on a
student’s well-being and self-esteem. The identifi-
cation of self-esteem levels can be linked to many
different factors in a child’s life (Advameg, 2018),
including social situations such as peer conflict,
acceptance within a group, peer approval, and per-
sonal success.
Self-esteem develops throughout childhood and
early adolescence. SEL programs such as restorative
practices can support educational approaches to
improve school performance and youth develop-
ment. Durlak etal. (2011), among others, argued that
“many students lack social-emotional competen-
cies and become less connected to school as they
progress from elementary to middle to high school”
(p. 405). Students may perceive their self-esteem
differently in childhood and adolescence because
of personal experiences and environmental factors.
Teachers can integrate SEL and RJ interventions to
support students’ success in their personal growth
and development in and out of the classroom.
Supporting RJ Through Conversations
in Picturebooks
Using picturebooks to support SEL via RJ conversations
can advance practitioner knowledge and help inform
practice in the world of education. Scripted questions
are included in this article to support teacher facilita-
tion to enhance active student participation. Hudson
(2016) stated that elementary-age students can have
peer book talks and conversations surrounding their
interest in a certain topic while educating each other.
Teachers can use specific questions as the leader of
the classroom during reading discussions (Fisher &
Frey, 2018). This can be done through a conversation
about a theme or component of SEL in or out of the
classroom that also relates to a picturebook.
Picturebooks can support a visual way of learn-
ing while promoting story analysis and building on
literacy skills (EBSCO, 2017). Peterson, Gunn, Brice,
and Alley (2015) argued that
teachers may guide these critical discussions to ex-
plore more broadly how language can be used as a tool
for leveraging or sharing social power and promoting
or debunking stereotypes, as well as for the positive or
negative positioning of particular individuals and soci-
etal groups. (p. 42)
Incorporating stories for students to discuss with-
in their classroom and lived experiences can help
students feel connected and supported through lit-
erature. Using picturebooks while discussing SEL
topics supports student engagement, allowing read-
ers to share their thoughts about the pictures in
the story (EBSCO, 2017). By incorporating RJ discus-
sion while using picturebooks, teachers can provide
hands-on experience with interpreting stories and
relating them to students’ own lives.
Supporting student learning through hands-on
activities has been productive in student learning in
both academic and social-emotional contexts (Durlak
etal., 2011). Hands-on learning, role-playing real-life
scenarios, and having support from teachers and
educators can help students learn how to respond to
situations that are uncomfortable or new. Findings
from Durlak and colleagues’ (2011) research study on
SEL practices in the classroom environment relate to
other studies that suggested that “successful youth
programs are interactive in nature, use coaching and
role playing, and employ a set of structured activities
to guide youth toward achievement of specific goals”
(p. 418). Practicing a social behavior, just like practic-
ing reading, can help each student improve and make
better personal and social choices.
As addressed by Daniels (2006), the use of various
strategies such as role-playing can be very helpful
in teaching subjects such as language arts; incor-
porating RJ strategies brings out an integrative and
all-inclusive component, allowing students to learn
and have fun. Although Daniels referenced language
arts specifically, hands-on learning can support any
type of academic or social learning. Researchers have
explored the ways in which RJ not only addresses stu-
dent misbehavior but also fosters positive classroom
environments. Thus, in descriptions of RJ, “there is
an emphasis on RJ both as a response to misbehav-
ior and as a way to facilitate healthy school climates”
(Anfara, Evans, & Lester, 2013, p. 58). Instead of using
an authoritative response, teachers can allow the
community of learners to come together to discuss
the implications of a behavior incident and to support
each other.
We Don't Eat Our Classmates
by Ryan T. Higgins
Higgins’s (2018) We Don't Eat Our Classmates (see
Figure1) is intended for an audience of pre-K through
sixth-grade readers. This typical first-day jitters
story specifically supports students starting school
in a new place and struggling to befriend a whole
new set of peers. It addresses the golden rule, treat-
The Reading Teacher Vol. 73 No. 5 March/April 2020
ing others the way you want to be treated, and iden-
tifies SEL character traits of kindness and inclusion.
The main character, Penelope Rex, attends a brand-
new school and is excited to meet her classmates;
however, she encounters some difficulties as a dino-
saur surrounded by humans.
First-day jitters for any student (or dinosaur, in
We Don't Eat Our Classmates) may include making new
friends, finding someone to play with at recess, asking
someone to eat with you at lunch, or even finding a
partner during class time. All of these firsts are hard for
a new student, especially where nerves, shyness, and
(in Penelope’s situation) hunger make it harder for the
student to integrate into the new school environment.
Penelope does eat her classmates on the first
day of class, learning the hard way how not to make
friends. Her classmates are afraid of her because of
this, also making it hard for her to make friends. The
only animal who is not scared is the class goldfish,
who takes a bite of Penelope’s finger, and she under-
stands what it feels like to be someone’s snack! She
ends up remembering that scared feeling and looks
at Walter, the class goldfish, each time she thinks of
eating one of her own classmates.
During reading, taking time to pause and allow
discussions between pages can support peer inclu-
sion and acceptance. Teachers can use the following
■How are we all different? Are we from the same
or different cultures? Point out that Penelope
is a dinosaur, different from her human class-
mates, and she felt left out of social situations
during her first day.
■What advice would you give to another class-
mate about being kind or inclusive? Relate this
to when Penelope started thinking about eating
her classmates and then acted on it. Of course,
humans would not eat one another, but the dis-
cussion here would be about being kind to one
another or even having personal space.
■Does anyone have an example of when you
needed your own space or to be left alone?
This relates to personal space. Allowing time
for discussion within the community cir-
cle or a wraparound one-word or one-idea
answer would be inclusive and suitable in this
Tip 1. Role-playing scenarios and actively practic-
ing specific behavior management techniques can
support students in their own real-life situations.
To support role-playing, the teacher should first
model the appropriate behavior and even provide
a scripted response for students to follow. Allowing
a volunteer from the audience to play the perpetra-
tor is a good way to support student participation
and to model appropriate ways to respond to certain
Before the role-play begins, the teacher should
always discuss what the bully would be saying. For
example, the scenario is that a group of students is
playing a game at recess when Samantha asks to play
with them, Brandy says she cannot play, and no one
else in the group says anything to allow Samantha
to play. A role-play scenario would support the other
students in that group to say to Brandy, “We should
let Samantha play. There’s room!” The role-play can
even suggest how to support an extra player in the
game, such as taking turns, or playing a different
game in which everyone can play equally.
Pictures from We Don't Eat Our Classmates would
support good discussions for the class to address
when students may need their own space or time
alone, to help them avoid being mean or rude to
another student. Discussions surrounding the ideas
of needing personal space, supporting kindness,
reacting to rude behaviors, or confronting a student
who is being mean to another student would be
appropriate to address.
Figure 1
Cover of We Don’t Eat Our Classmates
Note. From We Don’t Eat Our Classm ates (front cov er), by R.T. Higgins.
New York, NY: Disney Hy perion. Copy right 2018 by Ryan T. Higgin s.
Reprinted wit h permission. T he color figure can be viewed in t he
online version of this article at
The Reading Teacher Vol. 73 No. 5 March/April 2020
Supporting a conversation around how to make
friends, as in this book, via a restorative circle
can help students not only think about welcom-
ing behaviors but also get to practice them. Having
each student mention one way to welcome a new
student or discussing ways that would be appropri-
ate to welcome new peers would be beneficial after
reading this book. By supporting student voice and
social responsibility within the school setting, more
action can be taken to support conflict and injustice
between students.
Pink Is for Boys by Robb Pearlman
Pearlman’s (2018) book Pink Is for Boys (see Figure2)
integrates the social acceptance of gender noncon-
forming ideology that has been prevalent in our soci-
ety for decades. This book is intended for an audience
of pre-K through sixth grade with awareness of gen-
der stereotypes. Pearlman offers a rich story with
colorful characters, plots, and story lines through
pictures and text that educators can incorporate into
conversations and RJ discussion.
In poetic narration and vivid dialogue, Pink Is for
Boys tells how people of any gender or ethnicity can
enjoy each color of the rainbow. Depending on the
developmental level of the audience, discussions
may include understanding that it is fine for both
boys and girls to dress up and wear any color they
choose, do any activity they wish to do, and be any-
one they wish to be, no matter their ability or dis-
ability, gender, or ethnicity.
This book would be a great tool to support mis-
behaviors, specifically conflicts surrounding diver-
sity and personal identity in the classroom setting.
Teachers could ask questions for each page; for
example, for the pages showing yellow, the teacher
may ask these questions:
■What do you dream of doing/being when you
get older?
■Who is a good friend who supports your
■Who inspires you to be the person you want
to be?
Tip 2. Pink Is for Boys can be easily integrated into a
first restorative circle with a topic that is familiar to
every student. For example, at some point during the
first day back from a break or weekend, the educator
can ask students to sit in a circle, in their seat or on
the floor, and go over rules and how the circle will
be facilitated. Having students come up with three
to five rules is a great way to allow students to have
a say in their actions during circle. Addressing what
hand signals will be used or how a participant will
ask or answer a question is also a must for the first
session, reiterating these for each subsequent circle.
During this starter circle with Pink Is for Boys, the
educator can ask, “What is one thing you enjoyed
over the break and one thing you did not enjoy?”
The educator will model the answer by going first
and addressing the direction of the responses
around the circle. Each student will have the chance
to respond, with the option to pass once. After this
round of responses, students can either ask ques-
tions or propose a response to support another stu-
dent. Individual names are not used during circle to
avoid calling one another out, but suggestions could
be made in a general point of view. Integrating the
story lines throughout Pink Is for Boys can facilitate
discussion and support community during the first
week of school.
Using restorative circles while reading a picturebook
such as Pink Is for Boys can respond to problem
Figure 2
Cover of Pink Is for Boys
Note. From Pink Is for Boys (front cover), by R. Pearlman.
Philadelphia, PA: Running Pres s Kids. Text copyright 2018 by Robb
Pearlman; illustrations copyright 2018 by Eda Kaban. Reprinted with
permis sion. The color f igure can be viewed in the online version of
this article at http://ila.onlinelibrar
The Reading Teacher Vol. 73 No. 5 March/April 2020
behaviors that are happening in the classroom
through participation and feedback from the class-
room community (Anfara et al., 2013). Support can
be addressed through class discussion surrounding
books that are being read, relating to real-life situa-
tions that students are going through. As addressed
by Christensen (2009), there is enough evidence show-
ing that injustice and misbehavior happens in almost
every school, and yet these remain some of the most
problematic situations for schools to control.
Educators can positively support student devel-
opment by maintaining an inclusive and accepting
classroom environment. “Educators strive to create
classroom environments that are inclusive, where
diversity in family composition and circumstance
is considered and accepted” (Oslick, 2013, p. 545).
Picturebooks can be more than just a story that is
read and can support students in many ways; for
example, through a restorative conversation relat-
ing to discrepancies and bias toward others.
I Am Enough by Grace Byers
Byers’s (2018) book I Am Enough (see Figure3) sup-
ports an audience of first through sixth graders with
an empowering story of confidence, respect, kind-
ness, and personal success. There are three main
characters in this story; the names of these charac-
ters are not given, but I Am Enough is narrated from
the first-person perspective of an African American
girl and her friends. Pictures include the main
characters singing, swinging, doing handstands,
doing karate, climbing a ladder, competing in track,
jumping rope, and playing games. All these activi-
ties are positioned as ways to appreciate, support,
and help one another while sharing kindness. This
is a powerful book supporting self-assurance and
It may be empowering to read I Am Enough to a
health or physical education class. The poetry and
eye-catching pictures and language in this story
can engage readers through active, meaningful con-
versations. The summary of the book tells how the
book’s lyrical tone supports loving yourself, respect-
ing others, and using kindness in your life.
Discussion for each page could be prompted by
questions such as these:
■What does it mean to love yourself?
■What does it mean to f ly? To grow? To stand
like the mountains?
■What can you be? What are your dreams? What
do you love?
■What are you involved with?
■ How are you as a student?
■ What do you love to learn?
■What does it mean to rise above?
Tip 3. Practice modeling inclusive behaviors by role-
playing how to share objects, time, and even how
you feel with I-messages. I-messages can be prac-
ticed to support expressing feelings and standing up
for oneself. Role-playing I-messages can start with
a mean, bullying-like scenario that the educator
addresses, where student A calls student B a mean
name such as “a baby,” appropriate for the popula-
tion you serve. Student B would respond with an
I-message: “I feel sad when you call me that, please
stop!” Student A would then apologize for his or
her actions and respond, “I’m sorry I said that. Do
you accept my apology?” Student B would respond,
“Yes. Can we shake hands or do a high-five?” Both
students would then agree to make amends. Group
Figure 3
Cover of I Am Enough
Note. From I Am Enough (front cover), by G. Byer s. New York, NY:
Balzer + Bray. Text copyright 2018 by Grac e Byers; illust rations
copyright 2018 by Art by Keturah Ariel LLC. Reprinted w ith
permis sion. The color f igure can be viewed in the online version of
this article at http://ila.onlinelibrar
The Reading Teacher Vol. 73 No. 5 March/April 2020
discussion between the role-plays would be appro-
priate. The roles would switch so each student can
practice each side of the scenario.
After the activity, read the end of the book again:
“In the end, we are right here to live a life of love,
not fear…to help each other when it’s tough, to say
together: I am enough” (Byers, 2018, n.p.). Conclude
with a restorative circle, asking, “Why is this state-
ment important?” This can help reflect on the activi-
ties and role-playing the students just participated in.
The educator can support students to learn from
mistakes through failure, supporting the idea of try-
ing the best you can, never giving up, and pushing
until the end, even through hard times. Telling stu-
dents that it is OK to cry and it is OK to help others
when they are down and blue is an important take-
away from this picturebook; also, knowing how
to be a team on and off the field is a good point to
make to support community. Educators could sup-
port RJ through this picturebook by addressing how
there will be disagreement and miscommunication
among peers and friends.
By reading about characters in picturebooks and
the struggles they go through, students will be able
to translate the fictional circumstances to their per-
sonal environment, hopefully creating more under-
standing (Oslick, 2013). Students can actively practice
SEL strategies that are reinforced throughout the pic-
turebook presented to them. Fisher and Frey (2018)
stated, “Reading researchers value students talking
about texts as these discussions can motivate reading
and deepen understanding” (p. 91). Social stories sup-
port personal development and awareness by tying
in role-playing and conversation; students can then
have engaging learning experiences that support
their current social situations.
Alma and How She Got Her Name
by Juana Martinez-Neal
In Alma and How She Got Her Name (see Figure4),
Martinez-Neal (2018) crafts a journey wherein the
main character, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura
Candela, explores the stories behind her many
names. Alma asks her father why she has such a
long name, and he explains what each of her names
means and who she was named for, helping Alma
feel grateful and accepting of each of her names
through each family member’s story. Knowing
who we are and where we come from is important
and powerful knowledge to have as a child of any
age, which makes this book perfect for students in
kindergarten through sixth grade. To love yourself
for who you are and understand who influenced your
path is life-changing.
Alma and How She Got Her Name supports a great
message of caring and sharing. Helping students
who do have unique names understand that their
names are great and meaningful will not only sup-
port an inclusive environment surrounding the dif-
ferent ethnicities within your classroom; it will also
help students develop a greater sense of self-esteem.
Supporting students’ interest in their own familial his-
tory and goal setting for their bright futures is sure to
encourage curiosity and excitement in students’ lives.
Questions can support being present:
■What is a day in the life of Julia (for example)
like? Ask students to share one or two things
they must do routinely each day.
■Having students ask their family how they got
each of their names could be a great activity to
support social learning.
■What did you learn about your name? What do
you like about your name? Follow up with these
prompts to support discussion around what
students have learned and sharing personal
Figure 4
Cover of Alma and How She Got Her Name
Note. From Alma and How S he Got Her Name (fro nt cover), by J. Mar tinez-
Neal. Somerville, MA: Candlewick. Copyright 2018 by Juana Martinez-
Neal. Rep rinted wit h permission . The color fig ure can be view ed in the
online version of this article at
The Reading Teacher Vol. 73 No. 5 March/April 2020
stories, telling how each one of us is different
and unique in our own way.
■What are some things you enjoy doing during
your free time? Discussions around mindfulness
can help remind students to remember to be aware
of the present and to be grateful for each day.
Tip 4. A class activity addressing what mindfulness
is and how to be mindful in your behaviors could be
a good way to support personal identity. Having stu-
dents identify and create an image that makes them
remember to breathe and stop what they are doing
can support mindfulness, changing a behavior be-
fore saying something hurtful, whether name-calling
or picking on another student because of their gen-
der, ethnicity, religion, or culture. This would support
awareness of being kind to others and not hurting
them. Teachers could also identify an image to sup-
port a mindful moment if having students pick their
own is not developmentally appropriate. The image
could be anything the students could creatively think
of or a specific image of something meaningful to the
teacher and the classroom already.
Addressing knowledge and appreciation for all
the cultures of the world while supporting each stu-
dent’s mindfulness of self and others can stem from
this picturebook. Having students become aware of
others’ cultures, sharing as a group, and even incor-
porating a cultural day with the school would be a
great connection to this book to support awareness
of behaviors and RJ. Identifying rights and wrongs,
treating others fairly, and making a difference would
all be great to address. Incorporate personal biogra-
phies for a great personal touch to end this book.
Having an open and supporting space for stu-
dents to discuss conflicts, triumphs, successes, and
personal needs is important to support community
and diversity. Providing students with “new ways
of dealing with conflicts” (Grossi & Santos, 2012,
p. 126) supports spaces that are open for dialogue
and peaceful conflict management.
Implications of Picturebooks
to Support RJ
The strategies and books mentioned in this article
can be used across multiple contexts and areas of
learning. The identified four books are not linked
solely to the strategy addressed with each book.
Fisher and Frey (2018) argued that there are
four benefits of circles relating to literature: (1) a
stronger reader–text relationship, where there is
support of the student understanding what is hap-
pening in the text; (2) improved class climate, such
as a sense of community; (3) boosted gender equal-
ity and understanding of different individuals and
cultures; and (4) a well-rounded learning environ-
ment that is beneficial to the needs and abilities of
all students. Connecting picturebooks to the class-
room with community engagement and conversa-
tion can support an “increased sense of community
[created by these books], because the forms and for-
mats encourage sharing among readers” (Pantaleo,
2004, p. 186). Being intentional about conversations
that are brought up in specific books is important to
facilitate an environment of openness and learning.
RJ has been used in many countries and can sup-
port a hands-on learning environment. Circles can
be used to engage in collaborative problem solving
or to build and strengthen classroom community
(Pranis, 2005). RJ not only addresses student misbe-
havior but also cultivates positive classroom envi-
ronments (Anfara etal., 2013).
As mentioned by Pace, Lowery, and Lamme
(2004), “texts can provide a vehicle for discussing
what bullying feels like, how it is a group phenom-
enon, how easily individuals can be influenced by
their peers, and how hard it is to stand up to peer
pressure” (p. 36). School is a place where students
engage and learn from one another.
Every story is different; every student has a dif-
ferent perspective and view of the world. Stories
in picturebooks that discuss belonging, injustice,
friendship, and other common social issues are
often multifaceted, introducing and sharing a vari-
ety of perspectives and insights. Picturebooks have
been used in a growing number of experiences and
studies because they can introduce an additional
variable into educational practice (Maughan, 2012).
Restorative circles and active conversation during
class reading time with picturebooks are great ways
to integrate an effective conversation around the
topic of injustice. “RJ promotes engagement and col-
laboration among individuals at the local level for the
purpose of repairing the harm, resolving conflict, and
reconciling relationships” (Anfara etal., 2013, p. 57).
Picturebooks provide a way for students to learn
and react to social issues that characters experi-
ence. “Stories can show children both what is pos-
sible and what is impossible, what is positive and
what is negative” (Pace etal., 2004, p. 35). Through
a hands-on learning experience, students can
engage and have a voice by role-playing real-world
The Reading Teacher Vol. 73 No. 5 March/April 2020
situations, practicing how to respond to one another
in a safe learning environment.
Advameg. (2018). Self-esteem. In Enc yclopedia of Children's Health.
Retrieved from http://www.healt hofch
Anfara, V.A., Jr., Evans, K.R., & Lester, J.N. (2013). Restorative jus-
tice in education: What we know so far. Middle School Journal,
44(5), 57–63. https :// 771.2013.11461873
Christensen, L.M. (2009). Sticks, stones, and schoolyard bullies:
Restorative justice, mediation, and a new approach to confl ict
resolution in our schools. Nevada Law Journal, 9(2). Retrieved
from https :// oad/pdf/10678 727.pdf
Daniels, N. (2006). The effectiveness of hands-on activities com-
pared to paper and pencil activities when teaching reading to first
through fifth grade students (OTS Master's Level Projects &
Papers No. 110). Retrieved from http://digit alcom mons. rs_proje cts/110
Durlak, J.A., Weissberg, R.P., Dymnicki, A.B., Taylor, R.D., &
Schellinger, K.B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’
social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-
based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1),
405– 432. https :// /10.1111/j.1467-8 624.2010.01564.x
EBSCO. (2017, November 8). Seeing is believing: The benefits
of picture books for building reading skills [Web log post].
Retrieved from https ://ww le/seeing-is-
belie ving-thebe nefits-of-pictu re-books-for-build ing-readi ng-
Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2018). Raise reading volume through
access, choice, discussion, and book talks. The Reading
Teach e r, 72(1), 89–97. https ://
Grossi, P., & Santos, A. (2012). Bullying in Brazilian schools and
restorative practices. Canadian Journal of Education, 35(1),
Hudson, A. (2016). Get them talking! Using student-led book
talks in the primary grades. The Reading Teacher, 70(2), 221–
225. https ://
Knight, D., & Wadhwa, A. (2014). Expanding opportunity
through critical restorative just ice: Portraits of resilience at
the indiv idual and school level. Schools: Studies in Education,
11(1), 11–33. https ://
Marshall, T.F. (1996). The evolution of restorative justice in
Britain. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 4(4),
21–43. https :// 36712
Maughan, S. (2012, October 22). A call to action: Bullying and
books. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from https ://www.publi
shers child rens/child rens-bookn ews/
artic le/54458-a-call-to-action-bully ing-and-books.html
Oslick, M.E. (2013). Children's voices: Reactions to a cr iminal
justice issue picture book. The Reading Teacher, 66(7), 543
552. https ://
Pace, B.G., Lowery, R.M., & Lamme, L.L. (2004). Not like us:
Using picture books to talk about relational bullying.
Multicultural Perspectives, 6(2), 34 –37. https :// /10.1207/
s1532 7892m cp0602_7
Pantaleo, S. (2004). Young children and radical change
characteristics in picture books. The Reading Teacher, 58(2),
178–187. https ://
Peterson, B., Gunn, A., Brice, A., & Alley, K. (2015). Exploring
names and identity through multicultural literature in K–8
classrooms. Multicultural Perspectives, 17(1), 39– 45. https :// 960.2015.994 434
Pranis, K. (2005). The little book of circle processes: A new/old
approach to peacemaking. Intercourse, PA: Good Books.
Wiseman, A.M., & Jones, J.S. (2018). Examining depictions of
bully ing in childr en's pic turebooks: A cont ent analysis from
1997 to 2017. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 32(2),
190–201. https :// 543.2017.1419320
Byers, G. (2018). I am enough. New York, NY: Balzer + Bray.
Higgins, R.T. (2018). We don't eat our classmates. New York, NY:
Martinez-Neal, J. (2018). Alma and how she got her name.
Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
Pearlman, R. (2018). Pink is for boys. Philadelphia, PA: Running
Press Kids.
1. Integrate a restorative circle into your classroom.
Students should have a say in conflicting situations
to support each other as a community of learners
and helpers.
2. Role-play behavior management strategies.
Supporting students as they learn behavior
management skills through literacy can be a
productive strategy to engage conversation and
support conflict resolution.
3. Respond to disruptive behaviors immediately.
Responding to behaviors at the time of the incident
through active student and teacher involvement can
positively support your classroom community.
4. Integrate picturebooks that include social-emotional
scenarios with RJ to support your unique classroom of
learners. Restorative practices engage students and
support a community-for-all approach to facilitate and
respond to issues as they arise.
Bucci, D., Cannon, A., & Ramkarran, A. (2017).
Community, circles, and collaboration: The first 10 days.
Retrieved from https :// s/pdf/
RsmGIW_Resto rative_Appro aches-_First_10_Days_1.pdf
Clifford, A. (n.d.). Teaching restorative practices with
classroom circle. Santa Rosa, CA: Center for Restorative
Process. Retrieved from https ://www.healt
Resto rativ ePrac tices/ Resou rces/docum ents/RP%20
Cur ricul um%20and %20Scr ipts%20and %20Pow ePoin ts/
Class room%20Cur ricul um/Teach ing%20Res torat ive%20
Pra ctice s%20in%20the %20Cla ssroo m%207%20les
son%20Cur ricul um.pdf
Costello, B., Wachtel, J., & Wachtel, T. (2010).
Restorative circles in schools: Building community and
enhancing learning. Bethlehem, PA: Institute for
Restorative Practices.
Restorative Circles: http://www.resto rativ ecirc
... Not all literature will be able to address the issues underlying everyday inequities and support positive transformative social change. Koltz and Kersten-Parrish (2020) use several examples where picturebooks provide a means by which children can learn about and react to social issues that the characters experience. The use of restorative circles and interactive conversations are ways by which topics about issues of social injustice raised in stories can be integrated into classroom/centre discussions. ...
... The use of restorative circles and interactive conversations are ways by which topics about issues of social injustice raised in stories can be integrated into classroom/centre discussions. Restorative circles can promote engagement and collaborations with role playing in a safe environment so that children have the "third space" (Levy, 2008) for dialogue and conflict resolution (Koltz & Kersten-Parrish, 2020). Gutiérrez, (2008) talks about the construct of sociocritical third space in which the foundation of language and embodied practices creates a social situation that facilitates the development of a collective imagination and a shared social history (i.e., migrants) with a spectrum of challenges and trajectories. ...
Full-text available
Children’s literature is potentially a starting point to present critical multicultural concepts to young learners. It may also be a medium through which historical and contemporary ideologies of society are encouraged in the young learners. This process may be viewed as a form of cultural hegemony when the choices of literature and reading materials for children are deliberately selective for content and themes. The study is based on a critical content and thematic analysis of 15 multicultural children’s literature picturebooks. It aims to examine the social construction of culture, characters, and literary genres through the process of critical multicultural analysis. Code categories through content analysis of selected children’s literature picturebooks were formed by both directed and conventional content analysis. These code categories include content with a social justice/equity issue, themes involving inclusivity, discovering new worlds/other cultures, language/ethnicity/religion diversity, and multidimensional characters from minority or marginalised groups. This process provides insight into counter-cultural hegemonic elements in many forms of multicultural literature. Implications are discussed in terms of culturally responsive practice and multicultural education. These multicultural and picturebook narratives provide windows to society, informing readers and learners about diverse cultural experiences.
... Constituyen una intervención con finalidad también didáctica, que se llevará a cabo en los centros educativos concertados previamente y a través de asociaciones y organizaciones relacionadas con el rasgo, que nos aportarán también el soporte profesional y de supervisión imprescindible. Diversos autores de los antes mencionados, y otros (Suárez, 2020;Koltz & Kersten-Parrish, 2020) nos han dejado claro que el álbum no es más que una puerta de aprendizaje, no suple una conversación sobre un tema y un mediador es imprescindible. Por eso nuestra estrategia será crear unas instrucciones explícitas con cada álbum para que se cree un intercambio oral y visual entre el lector y el docente sobre el tema tratado. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Según la psicóloga Francesca Lionetti un 70% de la población posee cierta sensibilidad y un 30% poseen un rasgo genético y hereditario llamado Sensibilidad de Procesamiento Sensorial, o persona Altamente Sensible (PAS). Estos individuos tienen un cerebro con una mayor reactividad en ciertas áreas, lo que les permite captar más estímulos internos y externos y procesarlos con más profundidad. Es decir, son más sensibles que la media, sin embargo, cuando pensamos en sensibilidad nos vienen a la cabeza frases como “no seas tan sensible” o “no llores tanto”, lo que se deduce con ello que la sensibilidad es percibida en general como una debilidad, algo que no debemos mostrar, a pesar de que más de la mitad de la población es sensible.Nuestra investigación surge como respuesta a esta visión negativa, que nace y persiste a raíz de los pocos conocimientos que se tienen acerca de la sensibilidad. El objetivo fundamental es demostrar su valor social y educar acerca de su importancia a través de álbumes ilustrados en los que se encuentre además representado este rasgo y puedan servir como herramienta divulgativa y educativa en España. Proponemos el álbum ilustrado como medio por sus múltiples características didácticas, las cuales desde la imagen, ayudan a que los niños y niñas sensibles se sientan representados y se pueda normalizar tanto la sensibilidad como la diversidad de individuos con diferentes sensibilidades. Ayudando con ello a romper con los estereotipos que se nos van inculcando como modelos desde la infancia. De igual manera, tratamos la importancia de una educación que dé respuestas a la diversidad desde las aulas a la sociedad, haciendo frente con ello a una realidad: que no todos aprendemos de la misma manera.
... From the studies examined, results of great interest emerged regarding the benefits of applying restorative justice and practices in schools, as also confirmed by the theoretical articles and reviews reported in the Appendix A [57][58][59][60][61][65][66][67][68][69][70][71][72][73][74]. However, there is still limited evidence in terms of direct correlation, which suggests further studies. ...
Full-text available
Background: In recent years, the use of restorative justice (RJ) and restorative practices (RP) in schools has grown rapidly. Understanding how theory and research address this topic is important for its practical implementation based on scientific knowledge. The aim of this article was to analyse the practices derived from RJ implemented in school and what kinds of results have been achieved. Starting from the analysis of the qualitative and quantitative research in the field, a systematic review was conducted on the last decade of studies using RJ and RP at every level of school education. Methods: For this review, methods including the PRISMA guidelines, the PRISMA flow diagram, and qualitative synthesis were carried out. Scientific articles for the literature review were selected according to the following criteria: (1) publication date between the years 2010-2021; (2) student population aged 6-18 years; (3) publications in the English language; (4) articles directly accessible or accessible by contacting the author(s); 34 articles met the inclusion criteria. Results: The most used RP in school are circles (n = 26), followed by restorative conferences (n = 17), peer mediation (n = 10), restorative conversations (n = 8), mediation (n = 7), community-building circles (n = 5). RP can improve the school climate, discipline, positive conflict management through actions that aim at preventing suspensions, exclusions, conflicts, and misbehaviours (e.g., bullying). RJ practices promote positive relationships between peers and between students and teachers, as well as to prosocial behaviours through the development of social and emotional skills. Conclusions: From the studies examined, a great interest in applying restorative justice and practices in schools clearly emerged. Discussions on the benefits and challenges of implementation were provided. However, there is still limited evidence in terms of direct correlation, which suggests further studies on the impact of RJ and RP in school settings.
... Children's literature can serve as a pathway for modeling to students the ways in which individuals can organize their thinking toward a sense of hopefulness. For example, literature that invites readers to hope might involve stories that share nonfiction and fictional accounts of how others have dealt with social and emotional stressors (e.g., global pandemic, racial injustice) (Dutro, 2008;Koltz & Kersten-Parrish, 2020;Rodriguez & Kim, 2018); how to process traumatic experiences (DÁvila et al., 2019;Wiseman, 2013); pose questions about their lives (Wee, Park & Choi, 2015); and as a way for students to express their own emotions and understand their experiences (Phillips & Sturm, 2013;Sipe, 2000;Wiseman, Atkinson, & Vehabovic, 2019). This requires purposeful selection of texts and learning experiences where texts are used to support and value the individuality of students while connecting their cultural and linguistic strengths (Authors, 2020). ...
Full-text available
In this essay, we discuss how teachers and students can use children's literature and literature‐based activities to intentionally foster hope. The previous years have proved to be challenging on many fronts. Teachers of all levels are focusing on ways to support academic development in an oft‐shifting context. Drawing on research using bibliotherapy and other literature‐based interventions, we propose a literature‐rooted framework for teachers and students to create environments that foster hope.
Critical reading and critical literacy are skills that preservice teachers need to cultivate not only in their future students, but also in their own literacy practices. Picturebooks have the unique power to facilitate critical reading and critical literacy with preservice teachers. This chapter analyzes critical reading, critical literacy, and the power of picturebooks and then presents three approaches for using picturebooks to develop critical reading and critical literacy skills with preservice teachers: (1) fieldbased coursework with multicultural children’s literature, (2) analyzing voices and perspectives in readalouds, and (3) analyzing wordless picturebooks. Through intentional use of picturebooks in educator preparation programs, preservice teachers can gain the expertise necessary to use picturebooks to craft their own critical classrooms.
Full-text available
This article examines how bullying is portrayed within children’s picturebooks published in the last 20 years. Two overarching questions guide this research: (a) How is bullying defined and portrayed in children’s picturebooks published from 1997–2017? (b) What are specific features/qualities in picturebooks about bullying published from 1997–2017? Descriptive statistics and narrative accounts of bullying characteristics are presented. Findings indicate verbal bullying by Caucasian males toward other Caucasian males in the school setting is the most predominant form found in children’s picturebooks. Various responses of victims, bystanders, and adults are further described.
Full-text available
Children's names reflect their gender, culture, religion, language, and family history. Use of students' personal names has the power to positively affirm identity and signal belonging within the classroom and school community. However, naming practices also have the power to exclude, stereotype, or disadvantage students. For many students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, their names can be a source of cultural conflict and a watershed for issues of identity and belonging within the school setting. Through multicultural explorations of students' names, educators can affirm students' cultures and identities, and draw upon these as resources to support learning and development from early childhood through the adolescent years. The purpose of this article is to (a) discuss the importance of a person's name to cultural identity, (b) describe strategies to build multicultural communities in K-8 classrooms through exploration of students' names, and (c) suggest multicultural children's literature and curricular activities to teach about the importance of personal names, and develop cross-cultural understandings.
Reading volume is an important consideration for teachers wanting to improve literacy outcomes for students. The authors begin by reviewing evidence for reading volume and the ways in which reading volume can be changed. They identify four factors—access, choice, classroom discussions of texts, and book talks—that composed an intervention designed to increase reading volume. The authors identified 44 teachers in grades 1, 3, and 5 to implement the reading volume program and monitored the impact and implementation with classroom observations and teacher interviews. The impact was generally positive, with teachers describing changes in reading volume, motivation, writing achievement, and other factors.
This teaching tip details one teacher's implementation of student-led book talks in her primary-grade classroom. The author describes a simple gradual-release method that she has successfully used with her students in order to get them talking about the books that they are reading independently. She found that when used in the readers' workshop model, student-led book talks not only help to create a vibrant reading community in which students discuss books and recommend them to one another but also help to develop students' oral language skills, which correlates well with the Common Core language arts standards for listening and speaking.
Bullying is a widespread phenomenon that affects many children and adolescents in Brazilian schools. A pilot research study was carried out in four schools (one private and three public) located in Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil. A combination of self-administered questionnaires and focus groups with students as well as interviews with teachers were undertaken to investigate the prevalence of bullying and how restorative practices can help to deal with conflict. Approximately 80% of the student participants in the study reported having experienced bullying in the school setting. Restorative practices implemented in these schools appear to contribute to the improvement of the school climate through reparative dialogue.
In this article, we tackle the disadvantaging conditions of zero tolerance policies in school settings and advocate using an alternative approach—critical restorative justice through peacemaking circles—to nurture resilience and open opportunity at the school level. In the process, this article builds on theory and qualitative research and reframes resilience as an experience and adults as assets in advancing resilience in students and schools. Recommendations for implementing peacemaking circles are offered at the conclusion.
This article examines the issue of children with incarcerated parents within the broader topic of criminal justice in multicultural children's literature. The sheer magnitude of culture of children with incarcerated parents makes it necessary for their stories to be included in children's literature. Children with an incarcerated parent need to see their experiences mirrored in books. Other children need to use books on this topic as windows into the experiences of other children. And finally, all children need to use books on this topic as doors for examining issues of criminal justice in their immediate communities and society as a whole. Authentic student voices, ranging from first graders to fourth graders, are shared and ideas for using these texts in classrooms are included.
The Radical Change conceptual framework provides theory for understanding, appreciating, and evaluating three types of significant change in contemporary literature for children and youth: changing forms and formats, changing perspectives, and changing boundaries. A paucity of research has explored primary students' literary understandings of and responses to books with Radical Change characteristics. This article uses transcript excerpts from small-group interactive read-aloud sessions with grade 1 children to illustrate their understandings of and responses to the Radical Change characteristics in two picture books. The characteristics of Type One Radical Change (graphics in new forms and formats, words and pictures reaching new levels of synergy, nonlinear organization and format, nonsequential organization and format, multiple layers of meaning, and interactive formats), and one characteristics of Type Two Radical Change (multiple perspectives, visual and verbal), are used as a framework to discuss the grade 1 students' oral responses to and interpretations of the two books. The article also discusses the possibilities for language, literacy, and literary development afforded by picture books with Radical Change characteristics.