My students come to my multi-age classroom representing a huge range of reading abilities. I have students reading below grade level, at grade level and far above grade level.
My students, ages six to eight, are at the very beginning of developing their lives as readers.
Some came into my classroom already identifying as readers, while others have not yet developed this identity. Research shows that third grade is a critical year for reading development. Once they are past that grade, it can be difficult for struggling readers to get to standard. My goal as a teacher of first and second grade students is to get them hooked on reading early, so that they will become lifelong readers who not only read at standard, but above all, read for enjoyment!
Literature is a powerful tool that communicates what is valued in society. Messages of beauty, power, and value are implicitly communicated through the racial identities of the characters.
I am aware that my classroom library does not match the racial diversity of our world, but instead of quietly adjusting our book selections, I wanted to leverage the opportunity to involve my students in a study examining racial bias in children's literature.
My students conducted an inventory of our classroom library. They examined the racial representation of our books and found that there were far more characters who were white than characters of color.
After a powerful discussion about how important it is for us all to see ourselves reflected in the stories that surround us, we set to work creating a wish list of books that look like the students in our classroom.
These titles were all selected by my first- and second-grade students.
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