Professor, Literacy Education, University of Minnesota

I study the transformative power of literature for the young reader. Within children’s literature, my foci include speculative fiction, especially fantasy; global and multicultural books; and literature-based cognitive modeling for moral imagination, global citizenship, environmental awareness, and justice literacy.

I believe that any progressive change must first be imagined as a story. I believe that literature is a form of resistance to oppression and limitations. My work is grounded in cognitive science, especially its discovery that our brains are hardwired for narrative understanding. Since we are rapidly becoming a tightly interconnected planet, my interest lies in literature that helps us embrace this transition. I explore how speculative genres assist young readers in the formation of global consciousness built on inclusiveness and equality. I advocate for narrative fiction as a tool for developing justice literacy adequate to the current social, political, and environmental challenges. I study global and multicultural literature as sites where we learn to appreciate difference. I also look at how children’s literature reflects large-scale cultural trends. In all of these areas, I approach reading as an exercise in moral imagination that pollinates young people’s minds with ideas that will sustain them throughout life.


  • –present
    Professor, Literacy Education , University of Minnesota