My students are ninth graders at a neighborhood high school in North Philadelphia who are resilient and inquisitive, trying to make sense of the world around them. They are growing up in one of Philadelphia's most underserved communities. Most of our students are Latinx and/or Black, and many others are white, Southeast Asian, or Middle Eastern. We serve a large amount of multilingual students, English learners, and students with special education needs.
It is likely that none of my students have never had access to a school library in their educational career.
While providing them with books in a classroom collection cannot undue this inequity, giving them easy access to new and various titles is an important part of helping them build an identity as a reader.
This year, we are building the foundation for a strong culture of reading at our school. In English class, we spend 30 minutes every day reading independently. This has been a big adjustment for many students, who may not remember the last time they finished a book on their own.
Many of my students report that they don't like reading, but I'm confident that providing diverse choices at all levels will turn even the most reluctant reader into a bookworm.
The young adult publishing world is constantly changing, and luckily new books with culturally relevant topics are constantly coming out. This project will help me keep up with new titles and find items I think would interest some of my students who haven't yet fallen in love with a book.
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