Reading the Rainbow: Lgbtq-Inclusive Literacy Instruction in the Elementary Classroom

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Winner of the 2018 Literacy Research Association's Edward B. Fry Book Award

Drawing on examples of teaching from elementary school classrooms, this timely book for practitioners explains why LGBTQ-inclusive literacy instruction is possible, relevant, and necessary in grades K-5.

The authors show how expanding the English language arts curriculum to include representations of LGBTQ people and themes will benefit all students, allowing them to participate in a truly inclusive classroom. The text describes three different approaches that address the limitations, pressures, and possibilities that teachers in various contexts face around these topics. The authors make clear what LGBTQ-inclusive literacy teaching can look like in practice, including what teachers might say and how students might respond.

Reading the Rainbow is designed to be interactive, providing readers with opportunities to consider these new approaches with respect to their own classrooms and traditional literacy instruction.

Book Features:

  • Explains why LGBTQ people and topics should be included in the elementary curriculum and how English language arts is a natural fit for such instruction.
  • Describes approaches that teachers can use to address LGBTQ topics in the elementary classroom.
  • Provides classroom examples of teachers using these inclusive-teaching strategies.
  • Offers guidance for talking with parents and administrators.
  • Includes lists of recommended children's literature and helpful websites of both ELA and LGBTQ organizations.

About the Author

Caitlin L. Ryan is an associate professor in the College of Education at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, and former K-5 literacy enrichment teacher in the Washington, DC, public schools. Jill M. Hermann-Wilmarth is a professor of social foundations at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI, and previously taught grades 2-5 in the metro Atlanta area.

Reading the Rainbow is a terrific, nuanced, practical resource that many ELA teachers should come to value. Children in their classrooms, whatever their identities, will be the better for it.


"...a significant contribution to the growing body of research, especially in that it provides numerous scenarios from multiple teachers, grade levels, and schools along with frameworks for why and how to be increasingly LGBTQ-inclusive...It is a book of great importance to all teachers and researchers regardless of their grade level, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or specific contexts."

--Journal of Language and Literacy Education (JOLLE)

Publisher: Teachers College Press
Pub date: April 27, 2018
160 pages
Format: Paperback