As students enter my classroom, I smile seeing their faces light up. These diverse adolescents know that my room is a place they will be challenged, given respect, and pushed to think critically about themselves and their literature. I am grateful to teach 8th grade English in a culturally, economically, and racially diverse school. My young readers amaze me daily with their ability to truly celebrate their differences and invest in our classroom.
In my classroom, reading chosen stories is so much more than academic work; through these experiences with literature, my developing readers are able to grow into confident, empowered, and accepting young adults.
Author and educator Regie Routman explains that "classroom libraries are a literacy necessity; they are integral to successful teaching and learning and must become a top priority if our students are to become thriving, engaged readers." As an educator, I believe the most impactful thing I can do is foster my students' love of reading through providing rich, authentic experiences with literature. I can only do this by providing books that represent the vast array of their personalities and cultures.
Research supports what readers have known all along, literary fiction fosters social empathy. Kwame Alexander, an author and advocate for diverse literature, explains that we must provide students with books that showcase all their unique experiences. He asks, "if books don't give them the opportunity to see outside themselves, then how can we expect them to grow into adults who connect in meaningful ways to a global community, to people who might look or live differently?"
Now more than ever, it is crucial that we foster a society of tolerant, empathetic, and understanding adults, and we must do this through broadening our youths exposure to diversity.
In my classroom students know that we celebrate and seek understanding about all the amazing things that make us diverse. These things include our many religions, sexual orientations, cultural backgrounds, and medical needs; I must validate this tolerance with the literature on my bookshelves. In addition to providing high-interest, diverse literature, I must create a positive classroom community centered on inclusion and understanding. These novels will be central to our discussions and projects focused on both bettering students' academic abilities and building empathetic young adults.
Thank you for supporting my young readers, and helping them to become adults that celebrate differences!
If you donated to this project, you can sign in to leave a comment for Mrs. Medendorp.
DonorsChoose is the #1 classroom funding site for teachers.
As a teacher-founded nonprofit, we're trusted by thousands of teachers and supporters across the country. This classroom request for funding was created by Mrs. Medendorp and reviewed by the DonorsChoose team.
DonorsChoose makes it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need. Public school teachers from every corner of America create classroom project requests, and you can give any amount to the project that inspires you.