This article shows that an awareness of students' use of their own experiences and a consistent promotion of critical literacy skills throughout a child's, adolescent's, and adult's life strengthens awareness of the social, political, economic, and cultural implications of education. The article expands on John Dewey's (1938) theory of experience as the means and goal of education to show that middle school and college graduate students use their different levels of both personal and academic experience to respond to and interpret similar issues in the same text. Specifically, the authors discuss their use of Roald Dahl's (1983) The Witches to show how teachers might approach a children's book as the backdrop for teaching different age groups an increased awareness of gender issues, the effects of stereotyping, and the influence of popular culture on students' lives. They argue that educators need to use creative teaching strategies to provide opportunities for students at all educational levels to expand their literacy skills. The final section of the paper provides possible ways in which teachers can use literary texts at various levels to engage students not only with the material itself but also connect the text with their personal/ professional experiences and their own literacies.
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