Using Literature for Young People to Teach about Human Rights

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Teacher Kelly Miliziano uses books such as Isabel Allende's House of Spirits in her classroom to explore the social and political changes in Chile during the 1960s and 1970s. Invariably, she says, the violation of human rights emerges as an issue meriting further study. “What I like about using literature to teach about human rights is that you get to connect the literature to real events that are happening. It adds a palpable human dimension to what students study in a social studies class,” she says.1 Miliziano finds literature particularly useful because in addition to presenting the atrocities associated with human rights violations, it can also provide hope in the stories of individuals’ work that promote positive change. “We don't just focus on the horrors and atrocities, we also focus on what individuals and grass roots organizations have done and can do to effect change,” she explains. Students find it inspirational to know that, “No matter how small your contributions, it all matters.”

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Social Education, v. 76, no. 5, p. 263-265

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