To read this content please select one of the options below:

Disrupting deficit dialogues with literature

Jeanne Connelly (School of Education, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Denver, Colorado, USA)
Emily Hayden (School of Education, Iowa State University of Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa, USA)
Angela Tuttle Prince (School of Education, Iowa State University of Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa, USA)

Journal for Multicultural Education

ISSN: 2053-535X

Article publication date: 12 May 2022

Issue publication date: 10 March 2023




This paper aims to connect disability studies to multicultural education. This paper advances equity discussions and positions educators as interrupters of deficit dialogues that exclude students with social/emotional/behavioural (SEB) differences, disrupting the ableism that is present in schools.


The authors studied current children’s and young adult literature with representation of SEB differences to develop a three-dimensional model for educators. The authors synthesized interdisciplinary fields to provide educators guidance for planning, teaching and assessing student learning using such books.


The 3-D Model: Disrupting Deficit Dialogues with Literature (3-D model) is a framework that educators can use to evaluate SEB differences representation in books, deliver instruction that supports students’ critical thinking and assess student gains in literacy and social–emotional learning. This tool helps educators develop inclusive, interdisciplinary instruction, embedding social–emotional learning competencies in literacy lessons that disrupt deficit dialogues about SEB differences.


While other frameworks exist for evaluating books portraying characters with differences, they are not solely focussed on the assets of children with social/emotional/ behavioural differences. The 3-D model supports interdisciplinary instruction to meet mandated standards, incorporating concepts from disability studies in education into multicultural education. There is little research or guidance for educators in this field. However, challenging assumptions about disability and societal norms foregrounds possibilities for change as a foundation of multiculturalism.



Connelly, J., Hayden, E. and Tuttle Prince, A. (2023), "Disrupting deficit dialogues with literature", Journal for Multicultural Education, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 17-30.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles