I teach in a small public high school in Providence, RI. Last year I taught 11th grade and this year I am moving up to 12th grade, teaching the same students for a second year. My students are a diverse group, with a mix of native speakers and English Language Learners. Many are reading below grade level, but they are working hard and making great strides in literacy.
Culturally relevant literature inspires young readers.
For reluctant readers and students reading in a second or third language, reading literature where they can see themselves and their families, their cultures and their experiences, is engaging and empowering and can spark a lifetime love of literature and reading.
Last year, my 11th grade students read Elizabeth Acevedo's debut novel, The Poet X (thanks to the generosity of DonorsChoose.org donors!) They loved the story of Xiomara, a high school girl in Harlem who finds her voice through poetry. They identified with the struggles, emotions, conflicts, and triumphs of Xiomara and her friends and family.
Elizabeth Acevedo's new novel, With the Fire on High, will give my students the opportunity to do an author study, analyzing the book's connection to Acevedo's The Poet X.
I'm excited that I am moving to the 12th grade with the same group of students that I taught last year. It gives us the opportunity to build on the work we started last year. We will compare the experiences of Xiomara and Emoni, the protagonist of With the Fire on High.
Finally, With the Fire on High chronicles the senior year of Emoni, as she sorts out her life and plans for her post-high school life. What a perfectly relevant book to kick off the new year!
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