REC Seminars & Presentations

Religious Literacy: Children’s Museums as Playful Spaces to Engage Young Children and Adults

Wednesday, November 1, 2023 — 3:00pm (ET)

Vaughan Bradley-Willemann, Senior Director of Arts and Culture, Boston Children’s Museum

Mona M. Abo-Zena, Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts Boston

Children’s museums provide playful spaces within the public sphere for children and adults to engage together through familiar and novel content and platforms. This talk explores processes in developing religious literacy within the informal educational context of Boston Children’s Museum (BCM). To guide critical theory-practice connections, we reflect on how as collaborators in the Religious Literacy Initiative we sought to provide children and the adults who care for them opportunities to: 1) unpack how beliefs and values develop as a facet of identity; 2) increase comfort around differing belief systems and uncover commonalities; and 3) celebrate religious, cultural and familial traditions. 

The overarching goal of the Religious Literacy Initiative is for children, families, and caregivers, regardless of belief systems and practices, including those with no religious beliefs or affiliation, to feel supported in engaging with issues related to religion and spirituality. We highlight how a range of community partnerships contributed to refining approaches to family learning, provided examples of religious literacy being implemented in the Museum, and offered facilitated feedback to other public institutions around religious centered programming involving children and families in their local context. Acknowledging challenges and opportunities of engaging in religious literacy efforts with young children and families, we consider the implications of religious literacy efforts in informal educational contexts and how multimodal strategies can promote religious literacy in other public spheres.

photo courtesy of Boston Children’s Museum

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