[White Paper] Weaving Literature Into Social Studies

Download our latest white paper, Weaving Literature into Social Studies: Pairing Literary Works with Nonfiction Content. 

The white paper includes:

1. How to identify and choose a literary work

2. Reading comprehension strategies and skills   

3. Three specific examples for using literary works (a realistic fiction picture book, a lyric poem, and a graphic memoir) in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms

4. Example connections to make between literary works and the following key social studies themes: immigration, the Syrian refugee crisis, ancient civilizations, human-made landmarks, civil rights, and nonviolent protest


Download here.


A widespread understanding exists among educators that interdisciplinary curricula can benefit students’ learning. Educational research supports this understanding. In particular, research shows that the use of literature in the social studies classroom can promote students’ comprehension of important social studies concepts. Educational standards reflect this research by requiring students to draw topic information from a range of text types in order to build critical thinking and content-area literacy skills.

Literary texts can be used to provide background knowledge for social studies topics, especially for ones with which students have little or no experience. Literary texts can also prompt students to make connections to the social studies topics.

Literature that is appropriate for the social studies classroom should encourage the exploration of challenging social and cultural issues. Appropriate literary works may include literary fiction, literary nonfiction, and poetry that artfully construct layers of meaning in support of social studies themes. The literary work should allow students to develop an understanding of the different perspectives—as well as empathy for the people—associated with the historical event or theme under study.

This white paper focuses on how to identify and use different literary works effectively in the social studies classroom at any grade level to promote active learning, civic participation, and global citizenship. It examines the kinds of connections that students can make between literary texts and themselves, literary texts and other resources, and literary texts and social studies themes.

In addition to this white paper, teachers are also finding new ways to meet ELA standards with social studies content with Britannica LaunchPacks: Social Studies. Teachers love this classroom tool for its annotation tools, differentiated reading levels, and quick access to thousands of organized resources. With LaunchPacks, it’s easy to pair literature with supportive nonfiction content.

If you don’t already have access, you can get free access now to 1,700 curriculum-relevant subject Packs that include organized supplemental resources, such as informational text with annotation capabilities, media, timelines, maps, and primary sources. Give it a try!




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