Using Digital Book Clubs during the COVID-19 Pandemic to Minimize the Distance of Social Distancing


  • Anderson Smith Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Dr. Jody Polleck Hunter College—CUNY



Due to COVID-19, making transitions from in-person to remote learning has been challenging, especially for educators who work with historically marginalized populations.  For the duration of the pandemic, the authors have used books that center social justice in order to facilitate asynchronous and synchronous digital book clubs to build and sustain communities. In doing so, they have supported readers’ literacies while also focusing on building readers’ sense of agency, advocacy, and emotional well-being.  The authors used their combined experiences in ways that were culturally sustaining and emotionally responsive to the needs of vulnerable populations consisting of both formerly incarcerated adults and young adults in alternative school districts.  Using transactional theories and culturally sustaining pedagogies, this article provides an overview of how the authors facilitated these experiences as healing and nurturing spaces that sustain readers’ literacies while also providing them with coping strategies and opportunities for connections during a global pandemic. 

Author Biography

Dr. Jody Polleck, Hunter College—CUNY

Jody Polleck is an associate professor in literacy at Hunter College—CUNY; she also continues to work as a literacy coach and intervention teacher in New York City.