Learn from Rhoda at full-day pre-conference workshop—Surfacing Silenced Voices in Picturebooks: Social Justice in the Library

Dr. Rhoda Myra Garces-Bacsal

Associate Professor of Special Education and Advocate for Multicultural Children’s Books

Myra Garces-Bacsal is an Associate Professor with the Special Education Department, College of Education at the United Arab Emirates University where she currently serves as the Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee and Special Education Master’s Program Coordinator. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she served as the Programme Leader of the Masters and Bachelor’s Program in High Ability Studies and Gifted Education at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore where she taught for eleven years. She was nominated for an Excellence in Teaching Commendation Award in 2019, recipient of an Excellence in Teaching Commendation Award in 2012 and a Service Commendation Award in 2013. She was selected by the International Youth Library in Munich as an International Fellow in 2016 and 2017. She served as Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content held annually in Singapore from 2011-2019. She has edited five books on Asian children’s literature featuring the Philippines, Malaysia, China, India, and Japan. Dr. Bacsal has a vibrant website on children’s literature and young adult fiction ( where she shares her Social and Emotional Learning Bookshelf consisting of multicultural and international picturebooks from all over the world.

Surfacing Silenced Voices in Picturebooks: Social Justice in the Library (Preconference)

Teachers are often apprehensive to use “big-themed” stories in their classroom because they are unsure about how the students (or their parents) may respond to them. This session will provide an opportunity for participants to share what are some of the “challenged” picturebooks that are deemed “controversial” in their schools and how they navigate around these issues. The session will also highlight diverse and international picture books that deal with themes such as domestic violence, depression, war and conflict, death and dying. A hands-on, interactive workshop on how educators can scaffold their students’ understanding of narratives that push boundaries and expand their understanding of the world and their place in it will be included in the session.

Intended Audience:

  • Educators [Primary or Secondary]
  • Teacher Librarians
  • Curriculum Leaders

Portrayal of Exceptionalities and Valuing of “The Others” through Diverse Narratives (1hour Workshop)

This session aims to build the capacity of educators to select authentic, relevant, and diverse narratives that will make them more aware of ‘the others’ within the educational landscape, with a deeply-felt and immersive understanding on how practitioners can use diverse narratives to promote inclusive practices with their students.

Using Diverse Books for Transformative Education and Social and Emotional Learning in the Classroom (90m)

For education to be considered transformative, it needs to be able to leave a lasting impression and become part of the person’s self-narrative. This presentation shows how authentic and outstanding diverse books can serve to provide a ‘cognitive disequilibrium’ (Szecsi, Spillman, Vasquez-Montilla, Mayberry, 2010, p. 45) that compels teachers to open themselves to pluralistic approaches, critical reflection, and confront their beliefs and cultural assumptions. Diverse books from around the world that tap into social and emotional learning competencies would likewise be shared during the presentation.