My 5th grade students are funny, rambunctious, creative, spirited, and diverse learners. They each bring a unique background, perspective, interests, needs, strengths and areas to work on to the classroom. For these young leaners, school is a place of community, discovery, learning, growth, and both academic and personal development. We, like every school, also have students who are curious about how to best identify themselves and navigate in a world that is becoming more and more gender-expression diverse. One issue LGBTQ youth have is the feeling of isolation. This can certainly be confusing. Students may also have a family member who is a part of the LGBTQ community.
I want to have literature available in my classroom where students can see themselves and all of their family members represented regardless of their gender or gender expression.
Society can be judgmental, and challenging in the fast pace of today's world. For LGBTQ youth, all all youth, books mirroring their real-life struggles and challenges are of paramount importance.
It is commonly accepted that good literature has the power to transform the human experience and reflects it back to the reader. When children read, especially picture books, they can see their own lives and experiences reflected as part of the larger human experience. They can identify with characters, feelings, and situations. Books help teach children about the world around them.
Books can be mirrors in which children see and learn about themselves or windows into the lives of others.
If children never see themselves in a book, they begin to feel isolated. If children never see characters different then themselves, how would they learn to respect others? Reading books with diverse characters is a way for students to have a means of self-affirmation ,and to build empathy for others.
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