The ELA Student Experience

Engage Learners in Deep Literature Explorations

Facing History’s approach to ELA is designed to help educators create learning environments where students know that they belong and their voices matter. Coming of Age in a Complex World centers students' identities and lived experiences, creating space for students to explore complex ideas about self, society, and human behavior.

Because students are engaged when classroom material is rooted in the ethical, social, and emotional concerns of adolescence, they need to read literature that works as “mirrors” that reflect and affirm their identities and as “windows” that enable them to experience the perspectives and beliefs of those who differ from them.1

Coming of Age in a Complex World invites students to make personal connections to the text, develop social connections and broader perspectives by listening to others, and practice critical literacy by returning to the text to explore meaning and examine craft.

The program’s reading, writing, and speaking activities open students’ eyes to new perspectives, challenge their biases, build empathy for a wide range of human experience, develop their critical thinking, encourage them to make ethical choices, and prepare them to participate as agents of change in their schools, communities, and the world.

Student Outcomes

Through the program’s texts and learning experiences, students gain critical thinking skills, empathy, civic responsibility, and the belief that they can make a difference in the world. Through our resources and professional learning, teachers will be equipped to promote students’

  1. Identity development through close reading of identity-affirming texts along with opportunities for personal reflection and discussions that explore the complexity of identity
  2. Skills development through authentic learning experiences that cultivate the proficiencies students need to navigate nuance and complexity, challenge preconceived notions, practice perspective-taking, and read and write across genres
  3. Civic agency development through critical analysis of texts and collaborative discussions to help students recognize and respond to systems of power, oppression, and inequity in literature and the world


  • 1 : Sims Bishop, R. (1990). “Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors.” Perspectives, 1(3), ix–xi.

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