Teaching high school English is both exhilarating and exhausting. The 140 or so teens who walk through my door every day may all be from the same small, rural community, but their interests and life experiences often cause them to be vastly different from one another.
It's important for all students to be able to "see themselves" in the books they read.
Although my students come from a rural area in the south, they are still quite diverse. I have students representing a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, I have international students, migrant students, and native students. I have students who represent every shade of the LGBTQ+ rainbow. This project is designed to support my students' growth as readers while demonstrating value for the person they are.
Have you ever helped a young, African-American male try to find a book that shows other men of color in a positive and inspirational light? Have you ever faced the pained face of an LGBTQ+ youth looking for a story that doesn't negatively stereotype them? For a long time, finding themselves in texts was difficult for minority students. Thankfully, today's writers set aside old boundaries and present exciting stories showcasing people from all walks of life. These are the stories I need to add to my classroom library so that all of my students can find themselves in a text.
Teenagers need to "see themselves" in the books they read in order to help them make sense of their own complex lives.
They need to see their own racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds reflected back to them in stories that are empowering and affirming. They need to read of protagonists who share their religious beliefs, their mental or physical disabilities, their sexuality/gender identity, their socioeconomic status, and their own hopes, fears, and dreams. So many teens are lost and feel isolated, depressed and disconnected. Literature is such a powerful tool to help students realize that there really are others out there who can relate to what they are going through.
This project is designed to refresh my classroom library so that the characters and subjects represented in the texts more clearly reflect the diversity of my students. Every contribution you make helps another student find themselves in a book.
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