My students need engaging, accessible literature to read and discuss. The books I am requesting specifically meet the needs of a wide range of readers and diversify my classroom library by adding more authors of color.
I teach at a high school for recent immigrants. Our student body speaks a collective total of 16 languages and comes to us from over 30 countries! Ninety-eight percent of our students qualify for free or reduced lunch and a full 100% are English Learners.
My students arrive in my 12th grade English class with a range of English literacy; a few read on grade level, but the majority register many grade levels below.
Some students come with a history of interrupted formal education, having missed years of education in their home countries due to unsafe schools or the need to work to support their families. All have a unique story of struggle that has brought them to the U.S. They are truly dreamers, arriving with resilience, dedication, and hope for a better future that propels almost all of our graduating class onto college each year.
A key part of my senior English class is Literature Circles, a structure where students read books of their choice independently then meet together with a small group once a week to discuss what they've read. This was a huge success with students last year, but emerging readers reported that the book options were too challenging and the highest readers said they were ready for more challenge. The books purchased by this grant will diversify the options I can provide students to meet the needs of readers of all levels in my class.
These books will add more cultural and racial diversity to my library, which is important for reflecting the diversity of my immigrant classroom and expanding students' understandings of the human experience.
Additionally, I am adding a new unit this year about racial justice, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the African American experience throughout U.S. history. Through this unit, I hope to help students develop empathy and allyship for a marginalized group different from their own. I am planning a corresponding set of book choices for the Literature Circles during that unit. Books like The Hate U Give and When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir provide a current prospective on the BLM movement and police brutality while classics like I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and The Autobiography of Malcolm X will introduce students to the black experience of earlier eras.
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