As a first-year English teacher (starting this fall), I haven't technically met my future 8th-grade students. Based on my prior experience with this age group, though, I can say -- with confidence -- that my kids are smart, brave, passionate, and insightful. They are revolutionaries in their own right, and they can effect great change in the world around them.
The students in my classes come from a variety of cultural, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
As such, in our classroom, we value critical pedagogy, which is the assessment and questioning of the existing political and social structures that oppress marginalized groups. In order for my kids to speak out against social injustice, they need a diverse body of literature that will introduce them to the tools needed to do so. In other words, my kids need a classroom library where the authors' voices and experiences mirror that of my students.
I'm a firm believer in the power of reading, and my goal is that my classroom library will reflect that belief.
I also hope that the range of diverse voices in my library will help my students become better people as they learn more about themselves and the world around them.
For students of color, or for LGBTQ+ students, this process may be that they have access to literature where the character's life, family, experiences, and culture are similar to their own. For students in a position of privilege, such as white or affluent students, this process may entail reading about other kids whose experiences are starkly different from their own. By giving all of the kids in my class access to a diverse library, learning will be enhanced.
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