There has been much recent scholarship on the importance of engaging students of all ages in the critical readings of texts. This study explores a group of pre-service teachers’ responses to a set of experiences designed to encourage them to respond critically to several picture book versions of the American-Japanese conflict in World War II, focusing particular attention on Sadako by Eleanor Coerr (1993). Although a presentation by a visiting scholar from Japan highlighted the “constructedness” of the Sadako myth and outlined the historical and cultural inaccuracies of Coerr's telling of the story, the pre-service teachers in the study chose to believe the truth of the story and based their choices about teaching this literature to children on their pre-existing assumptions. The study examines reasons the pre-service teachers may have responded as they did and challenges teacher educators to develop more effective methods to support pre-service teachers as they select literature and develop their own pedagogical strategies to promote thoughtful critical conversations.
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