Conversations Around Identity Book Club provides opportunity to reflect on identity through literature

Allison Bryan and Lisa Buchanan, both in the Dr. Jo Watts Williams School of Education, partnered with Alamance Burlington School System to offer a book club for educators that reflects on the role of identify in their work with students through literature.

Allison Bryan, director of the Curriculum Resources Center and Lisa Buchanan, associate professor of education, partnered to provide an opportunity for local educators in the Alamance Burlington School System to reflect on the role of identity in their work with students through literature through the Conversations Around Identity Book Club.

This partnership was funded by the Fund for Excellence Grant at Elon.

This was the second offering of the book club and this iteration centered on “Indian No More” by Charlene McGinnis and Traci Sorell. The book follows Regina and her family as they move from the Grande Ronde reservation to Los Angeles after her father signs them up for the Indian Relocation Program.

During the book club meetings, participants had opportunities to reflect on their knowledge and understanding of the Native American experience, particularly as a result of relocation and termination policies. Participants used the novel as a starting point for discussions about Native American history, where this content fits into their classroom curriculum and how “Indian No More” might be used in schools going forward.

As part of the book club, educators examined instructional resources that could be included in their work with students. Some resources were provided by the facilitators and others were drawn from teachers’ classrooms or peers’ resources.

The primary focus was to include an accurate portrayal of Native American history and identify sources and materials that provide “#OwnVoices” authorship for a more complete perspective. Bryan and Buchanan provided reflection activities during or after each session, and based on their responses, the next book club meeting was planned.

The reflections provided important feedback on their own growth and learning around Native American history and inaccurate portrayals in curriculum and in the dominant narrative.

One participant shared that they are now “much more aware of telling all stories and having all voices represented as much as possible in the classroom and in our curriculum.”

Throughout the four-discussion series, educators reflected upon the role that their identities and those of their students impacted their pedagogical choices and their collaborative work with other educators.

A participant shared that the experience “has impacted how I work with my team and plan curriculum for my students.” As a result of the reading group, participants shared that they are “better aware of the multifaceted parts of identity and how they interact with each other” and they are “thinking a lot more about who my kids really are.”

Participants were given a copy of the book, purchased through the Fund for Excellence Grant at Elon, and were able to earn a Continuing Education Unit for full participation.

The first offering of the Conversations Around Identity book club centered Jason Reynolds’ “Look Both Ways,” and another session is scheduled for the spring. For more information on the spring book club, including the text selected, email Bryan at or Buchanan at