Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development

First Advisor

Thomas Giblin


Despite the billions of dollars spent each year in attempts to close the achievement gap between high- and low-income students, many young people living in poverty continue to struggle to read due to structural barriers within society. These structural barriers cause many low-income students to develop low self-esteem and lose confidence in their abilities and therefore decrease their motivation to read complex texts. In order to reach these struggling or reluctant readers from low-income households, it is crucial to address the obstacles they face in the lessons we teach. The best way to do this while benefitting all students is to incorporate Young Adult Literature (YAL). These diverse texts often contain themes of social injustice and other issues directly related to the structural barriers low-income students face daily and allow these students to make meaningful connections to the text. This not only boosts their confidence in their own knowledge and motivation to read by validating their personal experiences but also helps all students involved develop empathy for marginalized and oppressed people. By using YAL in English Language Arts (ELA) classrooms, English teachers have a unique opportunity to put low-income struggling or reluctant readers on a path to success and empower them to fight injustice.

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