The Missouri Reader Vol. 41, Issue 2 - Page 54


He goes on to explain how these barriers are shown in Discovering Wes Moore and in our own lives. He talks about how we can overcome these barriers. He even drew a diagram to help the reader understand what he was writing. While I was thrilled to read Sam’s deep thinking, I had tears in my eyes as I read the final asterisk note:


Figure 1

By allowing my students to participate in academic conversations, I believe that I am helping them recognize how their background experiences affect their beliefs and the ways they view the world. I hope that by teaching my students how to reflect on the ideas of others in the discussion group and by negotiating meaning within the group, they will begin to see there are many ways of looking at the world. As they read global literature through the lens of barriers, equity and justice, I believe my students will learn more about themselves and the world. I hope my students will begin to develop empathy for the characters they meet in books and then for others around the world. I hope they will continue to eagerly explore social issues and human struggles, and then one day be the agents for change that we need in this world



Nichols, M. (2006). Comprehension through conversation. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Peterson, R., & Eads, M. (1990/2007). Grand conversations: Literature groups in action. New York: Scholastic.

Zwiers, Jeff & Crawford, Marie. (2011) Academic conversations: Classroom talk that fosters critical thinking and content understandings. Portland, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers.

Moore, Wes. (2013). Discovering Wes Moore. New York: Delacorte Books for Young Readers.

Perkins, Mitali. (2012). Bamboo people. New York: Penguin Random House Publisher Services.

Laurie Finkenkeller teaches 5th and 6th-grade language arts at The Wilson School in St. Louis. She has been a presenter at the Write to Learn Conference, the Whole Language Umbrella Conference,

and NCTE. She is passionate about teaching students to think deeply about civil rights issues in literature in hopes that her students may one day be agents for change in our world.