I teach in a very large urban district in upstate New York. It is the second lowest achieving school in the area and considered a high needs school. Our school has been working hard on raising test scores, changing attitudes about reading and about school in general, and about setting behavioral expectations. Things must be working as we have seen gains in all these areas. This said, however, many of the sixth grade students in our classrooms come from disadvantaged backgrounds and many are struggling readers. It is difficult to get students to read for fun as several of our students have had limited access to books they want to read. I believe that part of this stems from the lack of texts that represent them and their lives. The characters in the books are nothing like them. This project will allow students to connect with the texts in a way they have not yet been able to. High Interest books on a variety of reading levels with characters that represent their lives is a great motivation for them to want to read.
My students need texts they can relate to, as it has been proven time and time again in studies that motivation to read is a number one indicator of success in school. African American Literature is a hugely overlooked area in literature and something I truly believe will help my students want to read.
I want my students to see themselves in the characters, to want to strive to be like them.
The texts I chose like, Sahara Special and Garvey's Choice, will do just that. My student's will spend time with text, not just reading, but actually enjoying doing so, by exploring themselves in the process.
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