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Abstract

While the U.S. has a divisive history around the separation of church and state in public school, current national and state teaching standards do include curricular objectives related to the study of religion. This paper focuses on the ways a diverse group of sixth-grade public schoolchildren engaged with religious content in their English Language Arts class. Specifically, it examines the kinds of narratives the children constructed in response to diverse works of public art and children’s picturebooks, including Mora’s (2012) The Beautiful Lady: Our Lady of Guadalupe / La hermosa señora: Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Señora), and Garza’s (1996) In My Family. The children’s responses disrupt us/Other social narratives and demonstrate the importance of religious literacy in the space of public schools. They push against the notion that acknowledging religious perspectives that are not part of mainstream culture could be offensive to some children. This study reinforces that the interdisciplinary inclusion of religious content in public school not only supports state and national teaching standards, but also opens a space for children to understand the pluralistic society in which they live.