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The Division of Library Development supports Civic/Social Literacy so that Connecticut citizens will have the knowledge and skills they need to improve their lives, participate and contribute effectively in their communities, and connect with one another through dialogue.
Libaries and Civic Literacy
From "Socialized Justice: Civic Engagement Teens Want," 10 Essential Programs at PLA 2020, Public Library Association:
Civic engagement is similar to reading in that it is a habit to be built, and young people need adequate and varied entry points to practice these habits. Librarians’ fluency in creating and navigating media and information places our work at a critical intersection with engagement, and can create a meaningful entry point for many young people. As libraries continue to grow active engagement opportunities, librarians can do their work in ways that promote youth using media literacy skills to act—to be a participant in democracy—not a passive bystander. If we want to increase the youth voices working on issues facing this country, let’s talk about how to make the connection between information, media literacy, and participation more clear.
What is Civic Literacy?
From the Youth Urban Agenda/Civic Literacy Project at Wayne State University: "The knowledge of how to actively participate and initiate change in your community and the greater society. It is the foundation by which a democratic society functions: Citizen Power as a check and as a means to create avenues for peaceful change."
From Concordia University, Nebraska: "While civic responsibility is minimally understood as the act of fulfilling duties such as serving on a jury, paying taxes, and obeying laws, civic literacy can be defined in two parts. First, students must understand the role and operation of local, state and national governments. The second component of civic literacy is active participation in civic processes, including elections."
From the Partnership for 21st Century Learning:
- Participating effectively in civic life through knowing how to stay informed and understanding governmental processes
- Exercising the rights and obligations of citizenship at local, state, national and global levels
- Understanding the local and global implications of civic decisions
GenerationNation says that those literate in civics:
- Know first-hand how their governments and communities work
- Understand civic issues and different points of view
- Can intelligently use news and information
- Are ready to take an active role in civic problem-solving
- Build social capital and join a diverse network of young civic leaders
What Does Civic Literacy Encompass?
- Understanding of democracy, government, 3 branches and their powers, checks and balances
- Ability to identify one's own elected representatives (local, state, US)
- Foundational documents – Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, Bill of Rights, additional amendments
- Voter registration, voter rights, how to vote, informed voting
- How a bill becomes a law
- How to run for office or help someone run
- Role of the Supreme Court
- Mechanisms and structure of the US legal system
- Jury duty, the role of the jury in the legal system
- Role of the press/media
- Municipal government structures, legislative process at municipal level, role of town committees
- Communicating with elected officials
- Consciousness about the issues that are most important to an individual and her/his community
- Volunteerism/community service
- Public service – elected or volunteer
- FOIA, public records, archives
- Role of the federal government in shaping the economy
- Political vehicles for representing public opinion and effecting political change
- Engaging in dialogue with those who hold different perspectives
- Utilizing non-electoral means to voice opinion (protest, petitioning, surveying, letter writing, boycotting, and so on)
- Organizing and demonstrating
Civic Literacy Resources Online
This site, founded by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, features interactive games and online lessons.
The Learning Center links to 15 civics literacy curriculum guides, all created in 2019-2020. The project was developed in Charlotte-Mecklenburg by a group of community, educational, and corporate partners.
Think the Vote
This site helps voters learn about issues and understand controversial topics and current events. Fun polls educate while encouraging civil discourse.
We the Civics Kids
This program is designed to enhance and build upon current civic education curriculum through children’s literature and other famous historical texts. Each month, We the Civics Kids shares a list of recommended reading and suggested lesson plans and activities that correspond with a specific civic holiday.
Bill of Rights Institute
Includes many free resources, including short "homework help" videos on topics of American history and economics, Supreme Court cases, and AP US History test prep.
United States Courts - Educational Resources
Includes activities developed around several key amendments and real Supreme Court cases, especially ones that apply to youth.
Center for Civic Education
"We the People" enhances students’ understanding of the contemporary relevance of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. "Project Citizen" promotes competent and responsible participation in local and state government.
CIRCLE: The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement
CIRCLE conducts research and provides resources on on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
Constitutional Rights Foundation
CRF provides programs and online lessons to educate young people about the importance of civic participation in a democratic society.
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