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Reading the Rainbow:

A Conversation with Jill M. Hermann-Wilmarth and Caitlin L. Ryan

In Part 1 Jill and Caitlin talk about how they came to write their recent book, Reading the Rainbow: LGBTQ-Inclusive Literacy Instruction in the Elementary Classroom (Teachers College Press, 2018). Their commitments to teacher education and inclusive curriculum is necessary for k-12 educators and also higher education classes. What does (the ideal of) full inclusion look like? Jill and Caitlin work with lgbtq children’s and young adult literature and also show how to queer other literature (e.g. Harry Potter).

In the forward to their book, Reading the Rainbow, Mariana Souto-Manning asks, “Will you commit to justice in and through your teaching?” Jill and Caitlin challenge teachers at all levels to expand our own lgbtq literacy into our curriculum and pedagogical commitments. They discuss the uses of literature in creating inclusive classrooms through the use of mirror books (that reflect readers back to them) and window books (that give readers insight into another person’s experience). They honor the knowledges of their students (both in the elementary and preservice teacher classrooms). And they invite us to be participants in an ongoing conversation about how to teach and live out justice in the classroom.

about our guest/s

Jill M. Hermann-Wilmarth (PhD UGA) (right) is Professor of Social Foundations at Western Michigan State University in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Educational Studies. Full disclosure: Jill majored in Religious Studies at Agnes Scott College, where she did a Directed Reading course in Paulo Freire with Tina.

Caitlin L. Ryan (left) is Associate Professor in the Department of Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle, Literacy, and Special Education in the Watson College of Education at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.


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_____, ed., Troubling Intersections of Race and Sexuality: Queer Students of Color and Anti-oppression Education, Rowan & Littlefield, 2001.

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Caitlin L. Ryan and Jill M. Hermann-Wilmarth, “Heteronormative Gatekeeping When Enacting Queer Research in Elementary Schools: An Autoethnographic Perspective,” Journal of Lesbian Studies, 2019,

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_____, Reading the Rainbow: LGBTQ-Inclusive Literacy Instruction in the Elementary Classroom, Foreword by Mariana Souto-Manning, Teachers College Press, 2018.

_____, “Already on the Shelf: Queer Readings of Award-Winning Children’s Literature,” Journal of Literacy Research, 45/2: 142-172.

“Rudine Sims Bishop: Mother of Multicultural Children’s Literature:”

Rudine Sims Bishop, Free within Ourselves: The Development of African American Children’s Literature, Heinemann, 2007.

_____, “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors,” Perspective, 6/3 (1990): ix-xi.

_____, Shadow and Substance: African-American Experience in Contemporary Children’s Fiction, NCTE, 1982.

A Queer Endeavor: